Minnesota Hospital Association


March 07, 2017

Minnesota’s nonprofit hospitals contribute $4.5 billion in uncompensated care and health improvement programs to Minnesota communities

Past five years have seen nearly $1 billion increase in community benefit

ST. PAUL – Minnesota’s hospitals and health systems contributed more than $4.5 billion in programs and services in 2015 to benefit the health of their communities, an increase of 3.6 percent compared to 2014, according to the latest annual Community Benefit Report released by the Minnesota Hospital Association (MHA). 

“Minnesota’s hospitals and health systems partner with their communities to promote physical and mental health and well-being beyond the physical walls of the hospital,” said Lawrence Massa, president and CEO of MHA. “We know that much of what influences our health happens outside of the doctor’s office – in our schools, workplaces and neighborhoods. Just as our care teams devote themselves to meeting the needs of patients in the hospital, our hospitals and health systems are driven to address their own community’s needs.”

Of the $4.5 billion, Minnesota hospitals provided $440 million in proactive services responding to specific community health needs, such as health screenings, health education, health fairs, immunization clinics and other community outreach, including in the areas of fitness, weight loss, mental health and diabetes prevention.

A few examples of community programs include:

  • CentraCare Health – Long Prairie partnered with the Long Prairie Wellness Network to bring Fare for All to Long Prairie. Fare for All purchases fresh produce and meat in large quantities at wholesale prices and participants buy shares for up to 40 percent savings, allowing families to stretch their food budget and access nutritious food. The pilot had 180 orders from 107 households in Long Prairie.
  • Mayo Clinic Health System in Cannon Falls and Lake City, along with the Goodhue Wabasha Pierce County Breastfeeding Coalition, launched Baby Café in 2015 in Lake City and in 2016 in Cannon Falls. Baby Café combines breastfeeding information with a relaxed, informal environment where mothers can visit and learn about breastfeeding from skilled practitioners and each other. Last year, Baby Café logged nearly 500 encounters, and Mayo Clinic Health System staff contributed close to 200 hours.
  • Winona Health offered Breakfast with the Experts to help area business leaders and human resources professionals stay current on trends and issues related to employee safety, health and wellness.

In addition to improving the health of the community, Minnesota hospitals reported providing:

  • $536 million in uncompensated care, or care provided without payment. This uncompensated care includes “charity care” for patients from whom there is no expectation of payment and “bad debt,” the result of patients who could not or did not pay their share of the hospital bill. The overall cost of bad debt expense decreased in 2015 due to continued ACA implementation with more Minnesotans securing health insurance, a priority long supported by MHA. The amount of charity care increased as hospitals adjusted their charity care and financial assistance policies to accommodate individuals with lower incomes who had insurance coverage with high-deductible out-of-pocket obligations.
  • $408 million in education and workforce development, including training for doctors, nurses and other highly skilled health care professionals.
  • $239 million in research to support the development of better medical treatments and to find cures for diseases.
  • $2.4 billion in government underfunding as a result of treating Medicare and Medicaid patients and receiving government reimbursements that are less than the actual cost of providing the care – an increase of 7.6 percent compared to 2014.

“Minnesota’s nonprofit hospitals and health systems are dedicated to promoting and improving the physical and mental health of the communities they serve while lowering the cost of care,” said Massa. “By supporting a continuum of care that includes community programs, innovative partnerships, clinic visits and hospital stays, Minnesota’s hospitals help ensure that community members receive the care they need when they need it.”

The 2016 Community Benefit Report reflects 2015 financial information — the most recent data available — self-reported by Minnesota’s hospitals and health care systems and supplemented with data reported to the Minnesota Department of Health. The annual report comprises an analysis of categories of community contribution activities on a statewide and regional basis.

To read more about hospitals' community programs and obtain a copy of this or previous community benefit reports, go to: www.mnhospitals.org/communitybenefit.

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The Minnesota Hospital Association represents 142 hospitals and health systems, which provide quality care for their patients and meet the needs of their communities.