DENVER, CO - The House Health & Insurance Committee today passed legislation to cap interest rates on medical debt and protect Colorado patients from deceptive medical billing practices. It passed by a vote of 8-2.
“Many Coloradans struggle to juggle essential expenses like rent and groceries, making it nearly impossible to budget for emergency medical expenses,” said Rep. Mike Weissman, D-Aurora. “Colorado patients should never be blindsided by medical bills or worse, medical debt collectors, after receiving necessary, life-saving care. We’re increasing transparency, capping interest rates, and increasing enforcement for violations to improve patient protections and reduce health care costs.”
“Hardworking Coloradans shouldn’t be burdened by medical debt just because they get sick or injured,” said Rep. Kyle Brown, D-Louisville. “By capping interest rates for medical debt at 3 percent, patients can worry less about how they will pay for their care and more about the health care they need.”
SB23-093 boosts patient protections from high interest rates for medical debt and confusing debt collection practices that lead to long-lasting debt and financial instability. It establishes new protections for Colorado consumers burdened with medical debt by:
Capping the medical debt interest rate at three percent
Pausing collections on medical debt as patients appeal their coverage and prohibiting reporting the debt to a consumer reporting agency until a certain amount of time after an individual fails to fulfill the terms of a payment plan.
Requiring medical debt creditors or debt collectors to verify total debt owed upon request by a patient and to provide a copy of a payment plan, thereby helping consumers know how much to properly budget for debt payments.
Requiring a health care provider or health care facility to provide, upon request, an estimate of the total cost of medical services to a person who intends to self-pay for the service, and
Reinstating the attorney general’s authority to protect consumers from deceptive trade practices related to billing practices and surprise billing.
Debt incurred from medical costs can be financially devastating for patients. When combined with high interest rates and complicated collections practices, consumers may never be able to pay off their medical debt. According to a 2022 report from the federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Coloradans overall held more than $1.3 billion in medical debt and over 12 percent of Coloradans have medical debt in collections.