Why a Wyoming hospital's bad debt climbed 50%

Wyoming Medical Center in Casper has seen bad debt increase about 50 percent since 2015, officials told radio station KTWO.

"When the economy is good and people are working then they come and they pay their bills," hospital CFO Gary Zmrhal told the radio station after a Nov. 5 meeting with the Natrona County Commission.  

"If not, that's the last thing more likely than not that they pay," Mr. Zmrhal said. "It's market conditions, it's the population, the aging of the population — things that all interrelate."

Wyoming Medical Center is a nonprofit, full-service acute care hospital with 249 beds on two campuses. As a nonprofit, the hospital serves Medicare and Medicaid patients and provides more than $50 million in charity and uncompensated care annually, according to its website.

Charity care is care hospitals don't expect payment for providing, while uncompensated care includes bad debt — care hospitals provided and expected to be paid for but weren't because the patient didn't or couldn't pay.

Hospital officials reported that Wyoming Medical Center provided $24.6 million in charity care in 2015, compared to $18.7 million in fiscal year 2019, according to KTWO. At the same time, they reported that
bad debt has climbed about 50 percent, from $26.4 million in 2015 to $39 million in fiscal 2019.

Mr. Zmrhal and hospital CEO Michele Chulick attributed the rise in bad debt to some patients not following through with their payment plan in its entirety, as well as economic circumstances and some patients not being able to pay their deductibles when they have an injury.

Read the full KTWO report here.

 

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