Advocate Health Care said it will refund as much as $3.5 million to needy patients to settle a class-action lawsuit that accused the hospital system of overcharging the uninsured.
The Oak Brook, Ill.-based network of nine hospitals will recalculate bills for any patient who paid for treatment since November 2000 and who was qualified for free or discounted care under Advocates current financial-assistance program.
Advocate, the states largest hospital system by revenue, implemented a more generous financial-aid program in 2003, one year after the lawsuit was filed. It offers free or discounted care to anyone who earns up to 400% of the federal poverty level, or $82,500 for a family of four.
Even though that program has existed for years, patients who qualified for discounts might not have applied. The settlement gives them another opportunity to come forth and fill out the application, an Advocate spokeswoman said.
A Cook County Circuit Court judge still must approve the settlement at a hearing set for Feb. 25.
Resurrection Health Care, the areas second-largest hospital system, also recently agreed to settle a similar class-action suit filed by uninsured patients in 2004. The eight-hospital Chicago system said it will recalculate medical bills charged to any uninsured patients who received care between Sept. 16, 2001, and Sept. 19, 2008.
Neither Advocate nor Resurrection admitted any wrongdoing as part of the settlements.