Editor's Note: This article was originally published on the Maurice Wutscher blog and is republished here with permission.
On April 30, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee signed into law Substitute House Bill 1531 which places new requirements on medical debt collectors. The new provisions go into effect on July 28, 2019.
The new law requires medical debt collectors to inform consumers in the initial written communication of the right to request the original account number, date of last payment and an itemized statement regarding the debt. For hospital debt, the communication must also notify consumers they “may be eligible for charity care from the hospital, together with the contact information for the hospital.”
Upon an oral or written request for itemization, a debt collector must cease collection activity until it provides the itemization free of charge. The itemization must include:
- The name and address of the medical creditor;
- The date, dates, or date range of service;
- The health care services provided to the patient as indicated by the health care provider in a statement provided to the licensee;
- The amount of principal for any medical debt or debts incurred;
- Any adjustment to the bill, such as negotiated insurance rates or other discounts;
- The amount of any payments received, whether from the patient or any other party;
- Any interest or fees; and
- Whether the patient was found eligible for charity care or other reductions and, if so, the amount due after all charity care and other reductions have been applied to the itemized statement.
The new law also caps the prejudgment interest rate on medical debt at nine percent and, “[f]or any medical debt for which prejudgment interest has accrued or may be accruing as of the effective date of this section, no prejudgment interest in excess of nine percent shall accrue thereafter.”