A San Francisco Superior Court judge granted final approval to a settlement covering more than 780,000 uninsured patients at all of Catholic Healthcare Wests hospitals. The settlement resolves class-action claims regarding the hospitals pricing and collections practices. Plaintiffs' attorneys estimated the value of its benefits at about $423 million. However, CHW officials said in a statement that the settlement amount was a hypothetical figure that incorrectly assumed that 100% of uninsured patients paid their bills in full and filed a claim. They said they are confident the actual cost will be much lower. Under the settlement, class members will be entitled to seek refunds or bill reductions of 35%. In addition, for the next four years CHW hospitals will offer discounted prices to uninsured patients that are comparable to prices received by patients with private insurance. CHW also agreed to maintain more compassionate collections policies that will protect uninsured patients who fall behind on payments, according to a news release from Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein, lead counsel for the plaintiffs. The class includes all uninsured persons who received hospital services from a CHW hospital between July 1, 2001, and Sept. 25, 2006, and had annual household income at or below $250,000. -- by Cinda Becker
Court OKs uninsured settlement
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