Minnesota Hospital Association


January 24, 2018

Minnesota’s nonprofit hospitals contribute $4.9 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 nearly $4.9 billion in programs and services in 2016 to benefit the health of their communities, an increase of 7.8 percent compared to 2015, according to the latest annual Community Benefit Report released by the Minnesota Hospital Association (MHA).   

“Minnesota’s hospitals and health systems are dedicated to their community service missions of supporting their communities by promoting physical and mental health,” said Lawrence Massa, president and CEO of MHA. “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 communities’ needs.”   

Of the $4.9 billion, Minnesota hospitals provided $567 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, nutrition, weight loss, mental health and diabetes prevention.   

A few examples of community programs include:       

  • Essentia Health helped community members in Northeast Minnesota access healthy food options by matching $5,000 of funds for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) participants at farmers markets and providing a $15,000 grant to Second Harvest Northern Lakes Food Bank to transform its traditional food shelf program to be a healthier model of distribution.
  • Fairview Health Services expanded its evidence-based Mental Health First Aid program, training 21 staff and community members to lead courses within their communities in a culturally appropriate way. Fairview conducted 28 classes in 2016 at a monetary value of $160,978.80.
  • Granite Falls Health invested $60,000 to address health care disparities by implementing a community paramedic program. The goal of the program is to manage and develop treatment techniques for patients in their home, prevent costly and unnecessary Emergency Room visits, decrease hospitalizations and prevent hospital readmissions. In the first six months of operation, the program decreased Emergency Room visits by 64 percent and hospitalizations by 52 percent for enrolled patients.   

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

  • $580 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. Bad debt expense increased by just over 3 percent to $374 million in 2016. Charity care costs increased by just under 19 percent to $205 million in 2016 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. With the 2017 repeal of the portion of the ACA that mandated individuals have insurance coverage, hospitals and health systems anticipate further increases in both charity care and bad debt in the future.
  • $452 million in education and workforce development, including training for doctors, nurses and other highly skilled health care professionals.
  • $248 million in research to support the development of better medical treatments and to find cures for diseases. 
  • $2.5 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. This is 9.6 percent of hospitals’ operating expenses.  

“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 2017 Community Benefit Report reflects 2016 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, visit www.mnhospitals.org/communitybenefit.     

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

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