New data from the Missouri Hospital Association reveals that in 2017, the state’s hospitals provided more than $1.4 billion in uncompensated care and exceeded $3.3 billion in total community benefit — record totals for both categories. The report and hospital-specific data are available on the association’s consumer data site, FocusOnHospitals.com.
“Hospitals are committed to building strong, healthy communities,” said Herb B. Kuhn, MHA President, and CEO. “They provide a safety net for Missourians without insurance or the ability to pay for their care, support local causes, engage in wellness activities in the communities they serve and help train the next generation of health professionals.”
In 2017, the cost of providing care to Missourians at the bottom of the income ladder — individuals who are eligible under hospitals’ charity care policies — increased by nearly $76 million to $795 million statewide. At the same time, the bad debt total increased by nearly $90 million to $628 million. Bad debt often results from an uninsured or underinsured individual’s inability to afford out-of-pocket costs for care. The data reflect hospitals’ cost for providing care, not charges.
Caring for the uninsured and underinsured isn’t the only way hospitals benefit the communities they serve. Hospitals also absorb the unpaid costs of treating beneficiaries of Medicare and Medicaid, help educate and train the health care workforce, offer free or reduced cost clinic services, and donate to local causes. When combined with uncompensated care, these investments are known as community benefit. In aggregate, hospitals provided $3.3 billion in community benefit statewide in 2017.
Hospitals have a significant influence on Missouri’s economy. They provide a powerful financial boost to the communities they serve, where they often are the largest employer. In addition, hospitals must invest in their infrastructure to ensure the highest quality care and patient satisfaction. These investments underpin the economy of cities, small and large, providing support for families and businesses throughout the state.
“Hospitals play an important role in strengthening individual and economic health, both locally and statewide,” Kuhn said. “This report underscores the significant and increasing value hospitals provide.”
The Missouri Hospital Association is a not-for-profit association in Jefferson City that represents 143 Missouri hospitals. In addition to representation and advocacy on behalf of its membership, the association offers continuing education programs on current health care topics and seeks to educate the public about health care issues.