Rise in uncompensated care forces hospital cuts

Andrew Van Dam

About Andrew Van Dam

Andrew Van Dam of The Wall Street Journal previously worked at the AHCJ offices while earning his master’s degree at the Missouri School of Journalism.

MinnPost.com‘s Dr. Kay Schwebke reported that uncompensated care — both charity care and bad debt taken on by hospitals to fulfill moral and legal obligations — has climbed at “unprecedented rates” in Minnesota as folks lose insurance through layoffs or employer cutbacks or otherwise can’t afford out-of-pocket expenses and high deductibles.

In Minnesota, uncompensated care made up about 2.1 percent ($247.4 million) of hospital operating expenses in 2007, up from 1.6 percent ($128.7 million) in 2003, and there are indications that those numbers are rising.

Driven in large part by uncompensated care, “net hospital income fell from a positive 4.8 percent in third quarter 2007 to a negative 2.5 percent in third quarter 2008,” Schwebke reported.

Schwebke also looked at what these decreases meant in terms of layoffs, cutbacks and the availability of charity care at the state’s largest hospitals.

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