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Voluntary Policy Gives Discounts to Washingtonians

SEATTLE, Wash. - (Jan. 10, 2007) - Virginia Mason and all community hospitals in Washington state are voluntarily expanding their guidelines for patient financial assistance. More Washington residents will be eligible for hospital discounts, and patients will be better informed about hospitals’ financial assistance programs through this effort. This action makes Washington state’s hospital financial assistance guidelines among the most wide-reaching in the nation.

Providing health care to those who cannot afford to pay is part of Virginia Mason’s mission. The medical center historically has offered financial assistance (commonly referred to as charity care) to low-income patients. Virginia Mason now has expanded its program to offer discounted care to middle-income patients as well.

“We are committed to the community we serve and this expanded charity care effort will help our patients who count on us in times of need,” said Gary S. Kaplan, MD, Chairman and CEO of Virginia Mason.

The highlights of the new policy at Virginia Mason are:

Discounts for patients
  • Charity care is one of many ways that Virginia Mason serves the community. Through our charity care program, free or deeply discounted care is provided to low-income and middle-income individuals.
  • Under Virginia Mason’s charity care policy, free medically-necessary care (after all health insurance has been exhausted) is provided to individuals making up to 200 percent of the federal poverty level. In addition, individuals earning between 201 and 250 percent of the federal poverty level are eligible for a 50 percent discount.
  • Virginia Mason has confirmed its commitment to adhering to the Washington State Hospital Association voluntary guidelines on billing the uninsured. As part of that commitment, beginning in 2007 individuals earning up to 300 percent of the federal poverty level will qualify for 30 percent discounts on medically necessary care.
Notice to patients
  • Virginia Mason and all hospitals will provide more information to patients about financial assistance. Posted signs will notify patients about financial assistance and brochures will be available.
In 2005, Virginia Mason provided $10 million in charity care. In addition, Virginia Mason had Medicaid contractual allowances of nearly $22 million, for total uncompensated care of nearly $32 million in charges.

About Virginia Mason Medical Center
Virginia Mason Medical Center, founded in 1920, is a not-for-profit comprehensive regional health care system that combines a primary and specialty care group practice of nearly 500 physicians with a 336-bed acute care hospital in Seattle. In addition, Virginia Mason has a network of clinics located throughout the Puget Sound area and manages Bailey-Boushay House, a nursing residence and adult day health program for people living with HIV and AIDS. Virginia Mason also has an internationally recognized research center, Benaroya Research Institute at Virginia Mason.

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