CT hospital uncompensated care below US average, varies between hospitals, no relation to profits

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According to the state’s latest report, Connecticut hospitals provided totaled $806 million in uncompensated care last year, up 5.3% from 2018. Uncompensated care is the total of charity care, provided to needy patients that hospitals never expected to be reimbursed, plus bad debt, care provided that patients couldn’t or wouldn’t pay for. Connecticut hospitals’ bad debt rose by 11% to $417 million last year, due in part to high deductible plans. Charity care remained stable at $389 million. According to the Census, Connecticut’s uninsured rate in 2019 was 5.9%. According to the report, last year Connecticut uncompensated care was 1.9% of total hospital expenses. The national average in 2017 was 4.0% of total expenses. Connecticut hospitals varied a great deal in how much uncompensated care they provided. Norwalk has the highest uncompensated care as a percent of total expenses in the state at 4.6%, followed by St. Vincent’s. Hartford devotes the least of its expenses to uncompensated care (0.7%), followed by CT Children’s Hospital.

In 2019, Connecticut hospitals made $682 million in profits, up 12% from 2018. Twenty of the state’s 28 hospitals were profitable. Connecticut hospital operating revenues have exceeded operating costs every year since 2016. Individual Connecticut hospitals 2019 uncompensated care costs do not correlate with hospital profits.

Hospitals also varied significantly in how much uncompensated care was charity care they never pursued for payment; versus bad debt they did pursue. Almost all of Dempsey’s uncompensated care is bad debt (96.8%) with very little devoted to charity care (3.2%). Sharon, Manchester, Day Kimball, Rockville, and Bristol hospitals are all over 80% of uncompensated care is bad debt. While Hartford Hospital devotes the least of their expenses to uncompensated care, most of it is devoted to charity care (74.1%). Bridgeport Hospital is more generous than other Connecticut hospitals in both total uncompensated care and the proportion devoted to charity care rather than bad debt.