MultiCare Auburn Medical Center. File photo

MultiCare Auburn Medical Center. File photo

Do you need to pay for your COVID hospital stay?

Washington state law requires hospitals to provide free care for certain income brackets.

Thousands across King County who have been hospitalized for COVID-19 are likely burdened with medical bills, but financial assistance is available.

The average hospital bill for someone with COVID-19 is around $50,000, according to FAIR Health, and for cases with complexities, that number skyrockets to over $300,000.

Washington state law requires hospitals to offer free or reduced costs for patients who make under a certain income, according to Senate Bill 6273. This financial assistance is known as “charity care.”

The law requires hospitals to provide free care that is medically necessary for patients with incomes below 100% of the federal poverty guidelines and discounted care for patients with incomes below 200% of the federal poverty guidelines, according to the Department of Health. However, many local hospitals have higher thresholds for free care.

For example, at MultiCare hospitals, people who earn up to 300% of the federal poverty guidelines are eligible to have their hospital bills cut by 100%, according to the MultiCare website. CHI Franciscan has the same threshold of 300% of the federal poverty guideline to qualify for free care, according to their financial assistance policy.

The 2021 federal poverty guideline for an individual is $12,880 in annual income, and 300% of that is $38,640. This means an individual who earned $38,640 or less annually is eligible for free care at MultiCare and CHI hospitals.

The threshold increases to $79,500 for a family of four. You can see a full breakdown of eligibility based on family size on MultiCare’s financial assistance website.

Families who earn between 301% and 500% of the federal poverty guidelines are also eligible for discounted medical bills at MultiCare hospitals, according to MultiCare. However, the exact size of discount changes based on income, family size and assets. This does not apply to other hospitals.

These discounts apply regardless of a patient’s insurance status. Hospitals are required to provide patients with information about financial assistance.

The financial assistance for hospital bills is not automatic. You have to apply for the assistance and prove your income in order to receive discounts. Most hospitals, including MultiCare and Virginia Mason Franciscan have information and forms regarding financial assistance available online.


Talk to us

Please share your story tips by emailing editor@covingtonreporter.com.

To share your opinion for publication, submit a letter through our website https://www.covingtonreporter.com/submit-letter/. Include your name, address and daytime phone number. (We’ll only publish your name and hometown.) Please keep letters to 300 words or less.

More in News

T
Use your King County library card to explore the outdoors

KCLS cardholders can check out a Discover Pass for two weeks to explore public lands.

Monkeypox virus. Photo courtesy of the Centers for Disease Control.
King County identifies first presumptive monkeypox case

The illness is not as easily transmitted compared to COVID-19, according to health officer.

This screenshot from Auburn Police Department bodycam footage shows an officer about to fire his weapon and kill dog on May 13, 2022.
Auburn police shoot dog, and owner claims it wasn’t justified

See videos of attack as well as bodycam footage of officer firing at dog.

File photo.
King County Council approves creation of Cannabis Safety Taskforce amid rash of dispensary robberies

The multi-agency task force will cooperate to find ways to improve safety in the cash-only industry.

U.S. Department of Justice logo.
Renton man sentenced for killing of woman in Olympic National Forest

Authorities say the he brutally beat to death the California woman who he was having an affair with.

Screenshot from ORCA website
New ORCA system launches for regional transit across the Puget Sound

Overhaul includes new website, mobile application and digital business account manager.

Judged by XII: A King County Local Dive podcast. The hands shown here belong to Auburn Police Officer Jeffrey Nelson, who has been charged with homicide in the 2019 death of Jesse Sarey.
JUDGED BY XII (Episode 4): Foster mom wants accountability in Auburn cop’s upcoming murder trial

Special podcast series explores Auburn Police Officer Jeffrey Nelson’s role in the death of Jesse Sarey.

Diane Renee Erdmann and Bernard Ross Hansen. Photos courtesy of FBI
FBI arrests Auburn couple after 11-day manhunt

The couple was previously convicted for fraud and skipped sentencing on April 29.

FILE PHOTO: King County Sheriff’s Office deputies.
Dozens of King County Sheriff’s Office employees left jobs instead of getting vaccinated

This added on to the existing number of vacancies in the department.

Environmental microbiologist Dr. Natalie Prystajecky with some of her staff members at the BC Centre for Disease Control. Photo: Submitted
Wastewater testing for COVID-19 coming to Interior Health

Testing can tell whether cases are rising or falling in a community

King County logo
King County audit finds backlog of property tax exemption applications for seniors, people with disabilities, and disabled veterans

The auditors found that program expansions lead to three-times the amount of applications.