An estimated 4.5 percent of Americans failed to obtain needed medical care due to cost at some time during a
According to Becker's Hospital Review, citing a report from S&P Global Ratings, "The growth in the uninsured rate is not having a large effect on for-profit providers," but the trend points to a potential negative credit outlook for nonprofit hospitals and health systems over time.
The Valley's three hospital systems,
Local nonprofit hospital officials agreed that it is something to watch, but there's not an imminent threat to the well-being of their systems.
"We have not debated whether health care is a right or a privilege," Aucker said. "If you solve that, you begin to solve the problem.
"I personally feel it is a right."
That means treating patients will remain the priority.
Aucker said the loss of money can downgrade a hospital's credit rating, which affects the cost of issuing bonds for building projects and other improvements.
"We give about
"Charitable care assists those who are uninsured/self-pay and is based on income levels," Hollenbach said. "Bad debts assist those people who may have insurance but for one reason or another may not have the ability to pay their portion of what insurance doesn't cover, such as their responsibility for a high deductible or the patient's remaining responsibility after insurance coverage has been applied. Bad debts also consist of uninsured/self-pay patients who don't qualify for charitable care."
Aucker said the number of uninsured patients may be going up, but "I'm not in a panic about it."
She said the hospital has to treat people regardless of their ability to pay.
"When they talk about reducing the cost of care, no one talks about hospitals," she said, adding, "I think
'Caring for vulnerable'
"UPMC has a long history of effectively caring for vulnerable people, regardless of the economic environment or other external factors," said
Pohjala said UPMC's financial health and 40-hospital system "allows us to provide more charity care than any other health system in
UPMC's provision of charity care and covering unreimbursed costs of care total about
'Worried about patients'
Geisinger provided charity care totaling about
"I think we are all worried about patients that lose their coverage," Tomcavage said.
Tomcavage noted that Geisinger will continue to care for the community not just through medical care, but also through other programs such as transportation for those in need and without a way to appointments, pharmacy or food shopping, and the Fresh Food Farmacy, which provides healthy food for patients.
"If we can keep people well, then they can work and could get health insurance," Tomcavage said.
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