St. Louis hospitals give uninsured discounts

St. Louis-based BJC Healthcare, a 13-hospital system that cares for about 30 percent of the hospital patients in the metro area, has agreed to give a 25 percent discount to all hospital patients without insurance. Uninsured patients who were treated at a BJC hospital since Jan. 1, 1999, and paid some or all of the cost, may be eligible for a partial refund or bill reduction. The discounts also will apply to uninsured patients getting treatment until at least 2012.

Patients in families earning less than 400 percent of the federal poverty level, or about $82,600 for a family of four, will continue to get additional charity care discounts. Those at less than 200 percent of the poverty level, or about $41,300 for a family of four, will get free care. Those discounts were put into place in 2005, the year after the lawsuit was filed.

The settlement, if approved by a judge, will become effective in early September. The decision settles a class-action suit filed in 2004, one of several on behalf of patients complaining that their bills were two to three times as high as those for patients with insurance. Other area hospitals avoided getting caught up in the suit by voluntarily discounting prices aggressively to the uninsured, but BJC's discounts didn't satisfy the plaintiffs.

To learn more about the case:
- read this St. Louis Post-Dispatch piece

Related Articles:
SC court says uninsured not guaranteed discounts. Report
California opens hospital discount listing site. Report
SC court examines discounts for uninsured. Report
MN hospitals extend uninsured discounts. Report
MN health systems pay back uninsured patients. Report
Legacy Health settles improper billing suit. Report
Catholic Healthcare West uninsureds get 35 percent refund. Report

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