Hospital companies see fewer unpaid bills under ACA

Joanne Kenen

About Joanne Kenen

Joanne Kenen, (@JoanneKenen) the health editor at Politico, is AHCJ’s topic leader on health reform and curates related material at healthjournalism.org. She welcomes questions and suggestions on health reform resources and tip sheets at joanne@healthjournalism.org. Follow her on Facebook.

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A recent post by Bruce Japsen at Forbes makes a quick supplement to a post we did recently highlighting how hospitals are faring in Medicaid expansion states vs. nonexpansion states.

Japsen knows a lot about the business side of the hospital industry and has written about the ACA’s impact on hospital finance. Recently he’s been paying attention to second-quarter earnings reports of publicly traded hospital companies. (As he notes, it’s the sixth quarter since ACA coverage expansion began.)

He writes that in this sector, unpaid hospital bills (despite all the concern about deductibles and affordability) are becoming far less common. In fact, the headline of his post says, “As Obamacare takes hold, unpaid hospital bills vanish.”

“With increasing numbers signing up to private coverage and more states opting to expand Medicaid in the last 18 months, hospital companies are seeing expenses for charity and uncompensated care fall.”

He looks in particular at Universal Health Services, a large multistate investor-owned operator of hospitals. Uncompensated care has dropped for all six post ACA quarters. The company has seen this most vividly in Medicaid expansion states – including Nevada, California and Washington, D.C.

The trends contributed to UHS raising its earning forecasts for the year and “should help the entire hospital industry, particularly as more states opt to expand Medicaid.” The company also operates in Florida – a nonexpansion state which nevertheless saw a huge boost in coverage through the exchanges – Oklahoma, South Carolina and Texas.

1 thought on “Hospital companies see fewer unpaid bills under ACA

  1. Pingback: Health care reform may be helping close the pay gap for primary care providers | Association of Health Care Journalists

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