Data is sometimes hard to get and other times data is slow to arrive. The Missouri Foundation for Health recently released a report detailing Charity Care at Missouri Hospitals in 2007 and 2008. The report shows that both charity care and bad debt have risen signficantly over the past few years and although the study is looking at data that’s a few years old, there’s no doubt the trend has continued.
In 2005, the Missouri legislature made significant changes to the Medicaid program and many individuals across the state who were once covered by Medicaid no longer had coverage. On top of changes in Medicaid eligibility, the weak economy has led to a loss of employer sponsored health coverage.
Charity care is defined as health care services provided without any expectation of payment and in 2004 Missouri hospitals provided $61.7 million in charity care, in 2008 that grew to $159.5 million.
Now let’s jump to today and look at some numbers we can get our hands on. Like all other Missouri hospitals, GVMH provides charity care. We are in the business of health care and we are a non-profit organization so we don’t turn anyone away regardless of ability to pay. In FY 2012 GVMH provided $2.5 million in charity care and absorbed $6.1 million in bad debt which is related to services provided from which an attempt is made to collect payment but the full balance is not collected and ends up being “written off” as bad debt.
There’s no question that charity care and bad debt continue to rise and even a rural hospital like GVMH feels the consequences of uncompensated care. As uncompensated care rises there is more and more reliance on the revenue generated by patients who are able to pay to offset the loss generated by those who are not.
Robin Hood’s motto was “rob from the rich and give to the poor”, our health care system is the equivalent of the modern-day Robin Hood.