Hospital uncompensated care costs fall to lowest level in 26 years: 4 things to know

From 1990 through 2015, U.S. hospitals' uncompensated care costs totaled $704.7 billion, according to a recent American Hospital Association report.

To calculate a hospital's uncompensated care costs, the AHA combined the hospital's bad debt and financial assistance costs. The uncompensated care figure does not factor in Medicare or Medicaid underpayments or other contractual allowances.

Using that formula, the AHA has calculated national uncompensated care costs from 1990 through 2015.

Here are four things to know about hospital uncompensated care costs, according to the AHA report.

1. In 1990, total uncompensated care costs were $12.1 billion, representing 6 percent of total hospital expenses.

2. Although total uncompensated care costs steadily increased from 1990 to 2000, the costs consistently represented about 6 percent of total expenses. During that period, uncompensated care costs represented the smallest percent of total expenses in 1992 at 5.9 percent and the largest percent in 1999 at 6.2 percent.

3. From 2000 to 2015, national uncompensated care costs fluctuated, reaching a high of $45.9 billion in 2012, which represented 6.1 percent of total expenses.

4. In 2015, total uncompensated care costs were $35.7 billion, representing 4.2 percent of total expenses — the lowest level in 26 years.

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