Missouri hospitals provided more than $1.5 billion in uncompensated care and $3.1 billion in total community benefit in 2018, according to the Missouri Hospital Association’s statewide Community Investment Report. The report, and hospital-specific data, are available on the association’s consumer data site, FocusOnHospitals.com.
“Hospitals contribute to strong, healthy communities in various ways, including providing a safety net for Missourians without insurance or the ability to pay for their care, supporting local causes, engaging in wellness activities in the communities they serve, helping train the next generation of health professionals, and preparing for and responding to individual and communitywide emergencies,” said Herb B. Kuhn, MHA President and CEO. “Today, hospitals are demonstrating their commitment to protecting and serving their communities as they address the challenge of the coronavirus.”
In 2018, the cost of providing care to low-income Missourians, the uninsured and underinsured — individuals who are eligible under hospitals’ charity care policies — increased by more than $50 million to $846 million statewide. At the same time, the bad debt total increased by more than $30 million to $658 million. Bad debt often results from an uninsured or underinsured individual’s inability to afford out-of-pocket costs for care. The data reflect hospitals’ cost for providing care, not charges.
Caring for the uninsured and underinsured isn’t the only way hospitals benefit the communities they serve. Hospitals also absorb the unpaid costs of treating beneficiaries of Medicare and Medicaid, help educate and train the health care workforce, offer free or reduced-cost clinic services, and donate to local causes. When combined with uncompensated care, these investments are known as community benefit. In aggregate, hospitals provided $3.1 billion in community benefit statewide in 2018.
“Hospitals’ employment and investments create a strong economic boost in the the communities they serve,” said Kuhn. “From the state’s largest cities to its small towns — hospitals or health systems are often the largest employer. The economic benefit generated by the hospital workforce and hospitals’ investments in their facilities, equipment and supplies, supports jobs and businesses communitywide.”
In 2018, Missouri hospitals employed nearly 162,000 workers and invested more than $1.6 billion in various capital improvement projects throughout the state. These community investments help strengthen the health care system. They also ripple throughout the economy, creating household income, opportunities to build businesses, and revenue for state and local government.
A 2019 report found that nearly 310,000 jobs in Missouri are attributable to either hospitals’ day-to-day operations or capital spending. These jobs delivered more than $19.3 billion in labor income, wages and benefits to Missourians. In addition, $27.1 billion in Gross State Product for Missouri can be linked to hospitals. In all, hospitals’ economic activities generated nearly $1.6 billion in taxes for state and local governments, while contributing $4.1 billion in taxes to the federal government.
“Individual, community and economic health all are linked to Missouri’s hospitals,” Kuhn said. “This report demonstrates that the state’s hospitals are essential to the communities they serve — for patients in crisis, and 24-7, 365 when Missourians need them.”
The Missouri Hospital Association is a not-for-profit association in Jefferson City that represents 140 Missouri hospitals. In addition to representation and advocacy on behalf of its membership, the association offers continuing education programs on current health care topics and seeks to educate the public about health care issues.