Minnesota Hospital Association


February 24, 2014

Upward trend in uncompensated care continues according to Minnesota hospitals' annual Community Benefit Report

In 2012, Minnesota hospitals and health systems contributed more than $3.9 billion in programs and services to benefit the health of their communities, an increase of 10 percent compared to 2011, according to the latest annual Community Benefit Report released by the Minnesota Hospital Association (MHA).  

Minnesota hospitals provided $521 million in uncompensated care — providing care without getting paid — in 2012. This uncompensated care includes “charity care” for patients from whom there is no expectation of payment, and “bad debt,” the result of patients who cannot or did not pay their share of the hospital bill. Since 2008, uncompensated care has increased 9.5 percent, making uncompensated care a continuing concern for hospitals.  

“Hospitals and health systems are hopeful that the implementation of the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) insurance coverage requirements, including MNsure, will help stabilize uncompensated care growth as formerly uninsured patients become insured either in state public programs or new commercial health plan options,” said Lawrence Massa, president and CEO of the Minnesota Hospital Association.   

“As nonprofits, hospitals and health systems ensure access to care for patients — regardless of their ability to pay — 24 hours a day, seven days a week,” Massa said. “In addition to making sure patients receive the care they need when they need it, hospitals provide a number of important services that otherwise would not be available in the community.”  

In addition to uncompensated care, Minnesota hospitals reported providing:

  • $415.7 million in services responding to specific community needs, including health screenings, health education and health fairs, immunization clinics and other community outreach;
  • $406 million in education and workforce development, including training for doctors, nurses, and other highly skilled health care professionals;
  • $543 million in research to support the development of better medical treatments and to find cures for diseases; and       
  • $1.7 billion in government underfunding as a result of treating Medicare and Medicaid patients and receiving a government reimbursement less than it costs the hospitals to provide the care.  

In 2012, hospitals reported a 16.9 percent increase in subsidized health services provided at a financial loss to the hospital in response to identified needs in the community. If the hospital did not provide the service it is reasonable to expect the service would not be available or would be the responsibility of public health or other nonprofit organization. These services include maintaining emergency departments in rural areas, inpatient mental health units, neonatal intensive care or trauma units or care provided by physician clinics and skilled nursing facilities. Under the ACA, each charitable hospital assesses the health needs of its community, prioritizes those needs, and develops a plan to address those needs in the years ahead. This is known as a Community Health Needs Assessment. Two thirds of Minnesota hospitals completing their CHNA identified access to care, obesity and unmet mental health needs as local community priorities.    

The 2013 Community Benefit Report reflects 2012 financial information — the most recent data available — self-reported by Minnesota 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.  

“Minnesota’s hospitals and health systems have designed strategic community benefit programs to help achieve what’s known as the “Triple Aim” of health care — improving the patient experience; reducing the per capita cost of health care; and improving the health of the population,” added Massa. “Hospital partnerships with their local public health agencies, community leaders and nonprofits demonstrate the belief that health also happens outside of the doctor’s office.”     

To obtain a copy of this or previous community benefit reports, go to: www.mnhospitals.org/communitybenefit