Providence policies called 'fair, just'

Class-action suit settled

Providence Health System's charity care and financial assistance policies are "fair, just, and reasonable," according to a Multnomah County Circuit judge who gave final approval to the settlement of a class-action lawsuit.

Under the terms of the recent settlement agreement, Providence retroactively offered its current financial assistance policies and discount to uninsured patients who received medical care at Providence hospitals in Oregon since December 2001.

Providence's current financial assistance policies offer support to uninsured patients with limited assets and incomes at less than 400% of the federal poverty level. Patients with limited assets earning 200% or less of the federal poverty level — $40,000 for a family of four — can apply for free care.

Providence also provides a discount for all uninsured patients living in the geographic areas served by their hospitals, regardless of income, to the same "preferred provider" rates paid by most of its insured patients.

As part of the settlement, according to an article on the health system's web site, Providence's financial assistance team spent thousands of hours reviewing claims submitted by uninsured patients who received services at a Providence hospital in Oregon during the past four years.

That review, the article said, identified 250 patient claims entitled to refunds — totaling $194,385 — under the terms of the settlement.