Hospital uncompensated care surges 14% to $1.1B in Wisconsin

Throughout fiscal year 2017, uncompensated care for hospitals across Wisconsin rose 14 percent to $1.1 billion, according to a report from the Wisconsin Hospital Association.

The report found 150 Wisconsin hospitals in 2017 had $1.1 billion in uncompensated care, including both charity care and bad debt. In 2016, the same hospitals had $994.2 million in uncompensated care.

Milwaukee County hospitals were adversely affected by unpaid bills, accounting for nearly 30 percent of the unpaid total in 2017.

While the report doesn't detail explanations for the rise in uncompensated care, advocates for patient access to health coverage note these uncompensated care levels haven't exceeded $1 billion since 2014, when key elements of the ACA took effect, according to Wisconsin Public Radio.

"The ACA, although imperfect, provided new coverage for people that dramatically reduced uncompensated care in Wisconsin from 2013-15," Bobby Peterson, executive director of ABC for Health, a Wisconsin-based nonprofit law firm, told WPR. "Sadly, those trends reversed from 2015-17 due to myopic policy decisions from the Trump administration and our own state Capitol, segmenting insurance markets and exacerbating healthcare costs."

After the ACA was implemented, the uninsured population dropped in all 50 states, but the uninsured population rate is once again climbing.

Nationally, uncompensated care totals exceeded $38 billion in fiscal year 2016.

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