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Minnesota Hospitals Gave Away More Than $200M in Free Care in 2016

Minnesota Hospitals Gave Away More Than $200M in Free Care in 2016

Bad-debt expenses also increased at hospitals in the state, a report from the Minnesota Hospital Association found.

Minnesota hospitals provided $205.1 million in charity care to patients in 2016, according to a report released Wednesday by the Minnesota Hospital Association. That’s up nearly 19 percent from the $172.6 million in free care that the state’s hospitals provided in 2015.
 
The MHA released the latest charity care figures in its 2017 Community Benefit Report. Charity care is care provided to patients with no expectation of payment.
 
Bad-debt expenses also rose at the state’s hospitals in 2016 to $374.5 million. That’s up 3.1 percent from 2015, when bad debt totaled $363.2 million. Bad debt is the cost of providing care to patients for which payment was expected but not received.
 
The combination of charity care and bad debt is called uncompensated care, which rose 8.2 percent to $579.6 million in 2016 from $535.9 million in 2015, according to the MHA’s figures. By comparison, nationally, hospitals’ uncompensated-care costs rose 7.3 percent to $38.3 billion in 2016 from $35.7 billion in 2015, according to a recent report from the American Hospital Association.  The AHA does not break out charity care and bad debt in its uncompensated-care figures.
 
In the Twin Cities metropolitan area, hospitals provided $129.2 million in charity care in 2016, or 63 percent of the total for the entire state. Free care here was up 39 percent from the $92.9 million provided in 2015.
 
The MHA released is annual Community Benefit Report about a month after it released a separate report that said most hospitals in the state operated in the black in 2016 with some enjoying double-digit profit margins, as previously reported by Twin Cities Business.