Uncompensated Care in Public Hospitals Essays

2605 Words 11 Pages
Introduction
Public hospitals, as a primary destination for low-income residents seeking medical care, play a crucial role in our society. Through constant changes in the healthcare system of our nation, these institutions remain true to their mission of caring for disadvantaged populations who lack stable access to health care. Over the past decade, the government experienced increasing difficulty in operating public hospitals due to scant revenue generation and constant budgetary constraints. In 2010, while the average national hospital profit margin was approximately 7%, public hospitals have hovered around 2%, which often resulted in operating at a negative margin when factoring in Medicaid reimbursements.1 These financial shortages
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Even disregarding the health reform, the recent increase in uninsurance and unemployment rates6,7 has led to vulnerable populations turning to public hospitals as their main source of care. But it is often mysterious, especially to physicians as well as the patients, which options exist if one cannot afford to pay for their treatments. Especially for illegal immigrants and those ineligible for Medicaid, the lack of public awareness for financial assistance programs can discourage such populations from seeking medical care. This in turn ultimately contributes to the rising healthcare expenditure if their conditions worsen and require higher complexity of care.
The purpose of this article is to enhance our understanding of the financial health of various public hospitals across the nation. We mainly focus on our own affiliated New York City’s Health and Hospitals Corporations (HHC). We also explore various charity care programs implemented to assist those who cannot pay for their care. Finally, we analyze the implications of the new health reform on future operations of public hospitals.
Seeking Care at Public Hospitals
New York City’s HHC is the largest municipal healthcare system in the nation, consisting of 11 hospitals, including the nation’s oldest public hospital, Bellevue Hospital Center. It also comprises of four nursing homes, six diagnostic and treatment centers, and over 70 community-based primary

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