medical billing
Young doctor with stethoscope in her office calculating medical bills. (Photo by Photoroyalty via Shutterstock)

About 43,000 former patients of Santa Clara Valley Healthcare (SCVH) will soon receive notice of possible billing corrections and refunds as part of a settlement between Santa Clara County and some past patients of the public hospital system.

The county said in a news release Aug. 14 that the billing corrections and refunds are “corrective actions” regarding the county’s Healthcare Access Program (HAP).

County officials noted three SCVH patients incurred bills ranging from $8,000 to $35,000 between 2013 and 2017, and their bills were sent to collections.

“At the time of their hospitalization, one petitioner was uninsured, a single mother of two children, and a full-time student; another was uninsured and spoke primarily Spanish; and the third was unemployed and unhoused,” the county said.

This led to a lawsuit that alleged the county did not inform the three patients enough about HAP and its discount payment policies. Doing so would have enabled them to apply for bill discounts and financial assistance.

As part of the settlement, patients whose bills were sent to collections between Oct. 28, 2018, and Dec. 31, 2021, will be given a chance to get their bills re-reviewed for full or partial discounts.

“Individuals who receive this notice will have 65 days to complete and return a form indicating their interest to apply. Individuals will then have an additional 150 days to complete their application by submitting documents to verify their information,” county officials said. 

Patients may also qualify for various financial aid programs and refunds, and have their court rulings corrected.

Santa Clara County officials also said SCVH patient notices now include full details about free and discounted payments. Information about HAP assistance is advertised in seven non-English languages, and its details are also sent to patients at the time of service or mailed to patients within a few days after discharge. 

“The County will also continue to assist patients with financial assistance applications and applications for government-sponsored health coverage such as Medi-Cal. Additionally, patients may apply for financial assistance at any time during the course of the collections process,” according to county officials.

Those who have received a notice about the settlement may contact SCVH at 408.494.7850. Patients may also reach out to the Health Consumer Alliance at 888.804.3536 to receive free assistance on refund qualifications.

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