Patient Financial Aid Law (FAL)

Hospital Financial Assistance Programs (HFAP) for Patients

Some hospitals voluntarily extend discount policies to people who do have health insurance, but are unable to fully pay co-pay and deductible amounts, also, to patients with incomes above 300% of the federal poverty level. So even if you have insurance or if your income is above the 300% level, you should feel free to ask the hospital about what discounts and/or installment payment plans may be available.

Effective September 13th, 2006, regulations were adopted that amend Section 405.7 Patient´s Rights of the State Hospital Code. These regulations broaden existing requirements for hospitals to provide language assistance, including a requirement to develop a formal Language Assistance Program (LAP) intended to coordinate language assistance activities and ensure that all patients who require this service receive it, free of charge. The LAP must include the following elements:

  • Designation of a Language Assistance Coordinator who reports directly to Hospital Administration and oversees the LAP;
  • Development of policies and procedures for the LAP;
  • Development of materials for the public that summarizes the process to obtain free language services;
  • Provision of ongoing education and training for hospital staff with direct patient contact;
  • Display of signage that will notify the public of free language assistance services;
  • Identification of the language of preference and the language needs of each patient during the initial visit to the hospital;
  • Documentation in the medical record of the patient´s language of preference, language needs, and the acceptance or refusal of language assistance services;
  • Limitation of family members, friends or non-hospital personnel acting as interpreters unless the patient agrees to their use, free interpreter services have been offered by the hospital and refused and issues of age, competency and confidentiality have been taken into account. Individuals younger than 16 years of age may not be used as interpreters except in emergent circumstances;
  • Management of skilled interpreters and persons skilled in communicating with vision and/or hearing impaired individuals who will be available to patients in the inpatient and outpatient setting within 20 minutes and to patients in the Emergency Department within 10 minutes;
  • Completion of an annual needs assessment utilizing demographic data that will identify limited English speaking groups comprising more than 1% of the total hospital service area population. Translation of significant hospital forms and instructions must be available for the languages identified in the needs assessment; and
  • Reasonable accommodation will be provided for family members or patient´s representatives to assist with the communication assistance needs for patients with mental and developmental disabilities.