South Carolina hospitals face high costs of hurricane evacuations

After transferring nearly 400 patients ahead of Hurricane Florence's landfall, some South Carolina hospitals will take a financial hit from that decision, The Post and Courier reports.

Evacuated hospitals will not only shoulder unexpected costs, but lost revenue, which may lead to higher healthcare costs, according to Schipp Ames, a spokesperson for the South Carolina Hospital Association.

Georgetown-based Tidelands Health moved about 100 patients ahead of the storm, and Myrtle Beach-based Grand Strand Medical Center moved 300 patients. Patients who were moved are unlikely to incur higher bills.

"Hospitals are able to receive some compensation from insurance policies, but much of these costs are absorbed by the health system and can lead to higher costs," Mr. Ames told The Post and Courier. "Hospitals can also apply to FEMA for federal assistance, but those requests are rarely fulfilled and not enough to cover the full value of a major patient evacuation."

For example, the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston is still waiting to get federal reimbursement from Hurricane Matthew in 2016 and Hurricane Irma last year. According to a Health Affairs report, when New Hyde Park-based Northwell Health evacuated almost 1,000 patients during Hurricane Irene in 2011, the system estimated a $13 million financial hit when including labor, supplies and lost revenue. The system received about $2.5 million from its insurance policy.

More articles on healthcare finance:
Advocate Aurora's operating income down 20%, in part due to Epic EHR implementation   
How Hurricane Florence may affect CHS, Tenet, HCA and LifePoint   
Quorum closes Tennessee hospital

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