Editorial

Hospital Association makes point on uncompensated care

Friday, April 29, 2011

While healthcare reform has been signed into law, opponents have pledged to repeal the law, and gigantic budget deficits overshadow all other arguments.

Americans are not willing to leave people without needed medical care, however, and the people and institutions that provide it -- and ultimately those who can pay, usually through their insurance premiums -- bear the cost.

The Nebraska Hospital Association has put out its annual "community benefits" report, detailing charity care, unpaid costs of public programs, community health education and outreach, community-based clinical services, health professions education, research, subsidized health services and community building activities.

This year's report, which uses 2009 data, the most recent available, lists contributions of:

* $130.4 million in Medicaid subsidation.

* $368.7 million in uncompensated care

* $1 billion in total community benefit contributions and bad debt

The $130.4 million in Medicaid losses covers the difference between what Medicaid pays for services and the actual cost hospitals incurred. The combined Medicaid and Medicare shortfall created approximately $480 million in losses for the state's hospitals, according to the report.

"Because more than 50 percent of all hospital stays in Nebraska are paid for by Medicare and Medicaid, hospitals are vulnerable to changes in public policy and payment inadequacy," the report said.

Those involved in debating healthcare reform would do well to remember that whatever the reform, someone will pay.

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  • The numbers are grossly inflated. There is no guideline as to how much a procedure should cost. It is a well known fact medical facilities "charge" as much as possible to find out what will actually be covered, and this is normal across the board, private or public. The profitability of health care is enormous.

    The "uncompensated" care numbers turn into an approximate 40% tax savings almost straight across. Show 100 million in losses save 35-40 million in taxes. So why not over inflate the cost of procedures. Not to mention the tax break recieved for those "uncompensated" charges that are considered "charitable" which just leads to more tax savings.

    Recent charge for office visit $136. Ten minues in and out, nothing major, just visit. So if you lined that 1 Docotor up with a patient every 10 minues they are going to make approximately $32k per 40 hour working week for the facility. Multiply that times the number of employed MD's, and the number of working weeks. That's just for the simple in and out office visit.

    Now look at the equipment used. Cost vs. Procedure charge. MRI cost between $1-3 million. Charge for procedure between $1k-4k. Machine is free and clear after approximately 650 scans.

    The medical industry, like big oil, big pharmaceutical, big insurance, and big government, are the sole responsibility of the grossly inflated cost to live in the United States of America.

    There are just too many hands in the cookie jars up on the top shelves, and not enough cookies to go around any more.

    -- Posted by cplcac on Tue, May 3, 2011, at 3:56 AM
  • Hospitals charge the maximum that Medicare/Medicaid will allow. This grossly over-inflated charge becomes the standard fees charged to all customers. As presently designed, Medicare/Medicaid is more of a federal subsidy to the medical industry than health care for the old and poor.

    -- Posted by Hugh Jassle on Wed, May 4, 2011, at 7:48 AM
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