Uncompensated care costs flat in 2017 despite uptick in uninsured
- U.S. hospitals provided $38.4 billion worth of uncompensated care in 2017, the American Hospital Association found in a survey out this week. Uncompensated care remained flat compared with the prior year, despite signs of an uptick in the rate of uninsured after years of decline.
- AHA figures show uncompensated care, or care for which hospitals did not receive payment, reached a high in 2013 of $46.8 billion when nearly 20% of adults were uninsured, according to figures from the Commonwealth Fund.
- Other industry trends noted in the annual survey include a continued loss of rural hospitals and an increase in hospitals managed by a larger system.
As providers prepare for a challenging year ahead with expectations of low volume and more bad debt, AHA's annual report captures the latest landscape of the industry.
Despite a trend toward declining admissions, AHA's data show that inpatient admissions and days in the hospital increased slightly in 2017 compared with the year prior. As hospitals shift more attention to the outpatient settings, those metrics increased too. Outpatient visits and surgeries both increased year over year, while emergency room visits declined slightly.
Overall, there were fewer hospitals (5,262) across the country compared to years prior. A majority of those hospitals were nonprofit facilities located in urban areas. Fewer hospitals were investor-owned in 2017 compared to the year prior, as nonprofit hospitals picked up additional facilities for a total of 2,968 hospitals, or control of 56% of the nation's hospitals.
There are fewer rural hospitals, now only 1,875, or a loss of 158 hospitals since 2013, according to AHA's figures.
Revenues and expenses have continued to climb. It's more costly to care for a patient, as expenses per person have topped nearly $3,000 each year, a figure that was $2,511 in 2013.
- The American Hospital Association Uncompensated Hospital Care Cost Fact Sheet