California Hospitals Spending Less On Charity Care

Hospitals in California, both nonprofit and for-profit, are spending less on uncompensated care since residents have access to coverage because of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), better known as ObamaCare.

According to data in a new report from California Healthline, acute care hospitals spent less than half on these patients in 2017 than they did in 2013 as a proportion of operating expenses. The data was part of a report to the Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development.

Charity care spending dropped from slightly more than 2 percent of operating expenses to less than 1 percent between 2013 to 2015. The report shows spending continuing to decline.

The ACA expanded insurance coverage starting in 2014 with hospitals now treating fewer patients who don’t have coverage of one sort or another.

The California Hospital Association reports fewer patients seeking financial assistance through the charity care programs.

California Healthline used data from 177 nonprofit hospitals, 80 for-profit hospitals and 54 city, county, district or state hospitals. The data does not include Kaiser Permanente hospitals, which are not required to report their charity care.

In the case of nonprofit hospitals, charity care spending dropped from 2.02 percent of operating expenses to 0.91 percent during a five-year period.

Jan Emerson-Shea, a spokeswoman for the California Hospital Association, told Healthcare Finance News that hospitals are giving back to their communities in ways beyond charity care. “You see charity care declining, but Medi-Cal losses are increasing,” Emerson-Shea was quoted as saying.

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