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  • Greater Cincinnati Hospitals’ Uncompensated Care Costs Rising

    Dec. 21, 2010

    Greater Cincinnati hospitals continue to extend an ever-widening safety net for people who need hospital care but are unable to pay for it. A study released today by the Greater Cincinnati Health Council reports that 25 area hospitals provided more than $307 million in uncompensated care in 2009, an increase of nearly 11 percent over the previous year.

    The $307,149,037 in uncompensated care reflects a 120 percent increase since 2005 – or a year-over-year growth rate of 17 percent.

    Uncompensated care is a term used to calculate the value of medical services hospitals provide to those who cannot afford to pay for their own care and for which no payment is received. The survey records dollars spent on uncompensated care at cost, and does not include funds from Hamilton County tax levies or other public assistance funds and contractual adjustments.

    “As a challenging economic climate continues to play itself out in the region, hospitals have responded with an even greater commitment to providing charity care,” said Colleen O’Toole, PhD, Health Council president. “The numbers reported here reflect a significant investment by local hospitals to provide necessary care to the people of their communities, regardless of the patient’s ability to pay.”

    O’Toole noted that unexpected medical bills are especially burdensome to those who struggle to pay for basic everyday needs such as housing, food and gas. Even those with partial insurance coverage have difficulty dealing with unforeseen medical bills, she said. Hospitals are putting extra effort toward identifying those who are in need to make sure they get help.

    Several factors are driving the increases in uncompensated care, including:

    • Expanded eligibility – Hospital charity care policies now include income levels at a higher percentage above federal poverty levels. For example, while policies vary from hospital to hospital, a family of four with a household income of $80,000 would in some cases meet the requirements to receive discounted care.
    • Increasing numbers of uninsured – Approximately 21 percent of adults in the region are uninsured, according to a recent survey conducted by the Health Foundation of Greater Cincinnati.
    • Higher unemployment, and an increasing number of those who are employed and have insurance but who are still unable to meet hospital costs such as co-pays and deductibles.

    “Uncompensated care covers a wide variety of hospital services for medically indigent patients, including emergency department care. While these rising amounts do present financial challenges for hospitals, treating patients who are not able to afford the cost of their own care is an important part of a hospital’s mission and a significant benefit hospitals provide to the community,” O’Toole said.

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    The Greater Cincinnati Health Council is a widely recognized association that provides a unique forum where hospital and health care leaders collaborate to create a stronger health care community. For more than 50 years, the Council has served as a trusted voice on hospital and health care issues in the Tristate region.

    2009 PARTICIPATING HOSPITALS

    HAMILTON COUNTY
    Bethesda North Hospital
    The Christ Hospital
    Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center
    Good Samaritan Hospital
    The Jewish Hospital
    Mercy Hospital Anderson
    Mercy Hospital Mt. Airy
    Mercy Hospital Western Hills
    The University Hospital

    BUTLER/WARREN COUNTIES
    Atrium Medical Center
    Fort Hamilton Hospital
    McCullough-Hyde Memorial Hospital
    Mercy Hospital Fairfield

    NORTHERN KENTUCKY
    St. Elizabeth Covington
    St. Elizabeth Edgewood
    St. Elizabeth Florence
    St. Elizabeth Ft. Thomas
    St. Elizabeth Grant

    OTHER SUBURBAN AND OUTLYING
    Adams County Regional Medical Center
    Brown County General Hospital
    Clinton Memorial Hospital
    Dearborn County Hospital
    Highland District Hospital
    Margaret Mary Community Hospital
    Mercy Hospital Clermont

    © Copyright Greater Cincinnati Health Council 2011