Hospitals Provided $46B in Uncompensated Care in 2012

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Community hospitals posted $45.9 billion in uncompensated care in 2012, which represented 6.1 percent of total hospital expenses.

The latest data come from the American Hospital Association's Annual Survey. For 2012, AHA counted 5,000 hospitals. The group defines uncompensated care as the combination of a hospital's bad debt and charity care, but it excludes Medicare and Medicaid underpayment costs. Bad debt consists of services for which hospitals expected to receive payment but did not, whereas as charity care is free care for which hospitals did not expect to receive payment.

The $45.9 billion was an 11.7 percent jump from 2011, when hospitals recorded $41.1 billion in uncompensated care.

Uncompensated care costs to hospitals has generally represented between 5 and 6 percent of expenses since 1980, when AHA first started tracking the data.

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