Scripps Settlement Could Lower Hospital Charges for Uninsured
Five Scripps Health hospitals in San Diego County have reached a proposed settlement in a class-action lawsuit that could reduce unpaid hospital bills for up to 60,000 uninsured patients, the San Diego Union-Tribune reports.
On Friday, San Diego Superior Court Judge Steven Denton will consider approving the settlement.
The lawsuit, filed in 2006, claims the five not-for-profit hospitals billed uninsured patients an average of 412% higher than Medicare rates.
Kelly Dermody, an attorney in the case, said the lawsuit also accused Scripps of violating state consumer protection statutes and contract laws.
Under the settlement, uninsured patients who were charged the full prices for medical services at the hospitals since 2002 would be eligible for a 35% discount on their bills.
The discounts could be worth more than $73 million total, according to lawyers in the case.
Scripps also agreed to:
- Maintain discount pricing and "compassionate" collection policies for uninsured patients regardless of income;
- Boost its charity discounts for moderate-income, uninsured patients;
- Offer financial counseling to uninsured patients; and
- Provide more information about the policies to uninsured patients.
The hospitals would continue the new policies for at least four years.
Scripps denied any wrongdoing or liability in the case.
Deborah Giles, corporate counsel for Scripps, said current policies at Scripps hospitals already meet or exceed the terms of the settlement. She added that the settlement "allows us to move forward" (Darcé, San Diego Union-Tribune, 2/1).