$1.4 Million in Uncompensated Care and Health Care Services Given Annually
Orange City Area Health System provides over $1.4 million in community benefits to the northwest Iowa region, according to a recently completed assessment of those programs and services. That amount, based on 2017 figures, includes $685,000 in uncompensated care and $745,000 in free or discounted community benefits that Orange City Area Health System specifically implemented to help the region’s residents.
Community benefits are activities designed to improve health status and increase access to health care. Along with uncompensated care (which includes both charity care and bad debt), community benefits include such services and programs as health screenings, support groups, counseling, immunizations, nutritional services, and transportation programs.
The results for Orange City Area Health System are included in a statewide report by the Iowa Hospital Association (IHA) that shows Iowa hospitals provided community benefits in 2017 valued at more than $880 million, including more than $224 million in charity care.
“We embrace the role expected of us in providing benefit to the region we serve that is beyond providing direct health care,” commented Marty Guthmiller, CEO for Orange City Area Health System and chair-elect of IHA. “It is a critical element of all Iowa hospitals.”
The programs and services accounted for in the survey were implemented in direct response to the needs of individual communities as well as entire counties and regions. Many of these programs and services simply would not exist without hospital support and leadership, said IHA President and CEO Kirk Norris.
Uncompensated care (which is made up of both charity care and bad debt) also plays a role in overall community benefit for services provided by hospitals. Total uncompensated care in 2017 was valued at $502 million. The survey also showed total Medicare and Medicaid losses (at cost) of $226 million.
Charity care in Iowa hospitals has declined precipitously since implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), including Iowa’s expansion of the Medicaid program. Recent efforts in Congress to repeal the ACA and roll back expansion would not only leave tens of thousands of Iowans without insurance, but would financially endanger hospitals across the state, which is why IHA has strenuously opposed such legislation.
Iowa hospitals, which employ more than 74,000 people, continue implement strategies that increase value to their patients and communities by offering high-quality care to individuals, addressing the health needs of communities and implementing process improvements that bend the cost curve. By seeking out ways to raise quality, reduce waste and increase safety, Iowa hospitals have become value leaders, as shown in multiple studies by the Dartmouth Atlas of Health Care, the Commonwealth Fund and others.
These efforts, along with IHA’s ongoing advocacy to create fairer payment methodologies from Medicare and Medicaid, help ensure the financial stability of hospitals, making it possible for them to provide the services and programs most needed by their communities.