Sunday, December 14, 2008

Nonprofit Hospitals Don't Believe In Charity

Star business reporter Dan Lee brings home a point in a front-page feature about nonprofit hospitals which can't be said loudly enough: they no longer believe in charity work. Here are the embarrassing statistics for area hospitals, which reveal just how little charity work they perform as a percentage of their total revenue:

St. Vincent Indianapolis (1.52%)
St. Vincent Carmel (0.55%)
Clarian Health (2.57%)
Community Health Network (0.92%)
St. Francis (2.48%)

The executives of these "nonprofit" hospitals each earn about a million dollars a year or more according to Lee's story. None of the hospitals pay property taxes on their pricey facilities because they have legal nonprofit status. So what exactly do these hospital do that benefit the public to justify their continued nonprofit status? The short answer is very little. Obviously, providing free care to the poor barely makes the radar screen and when it does, it's only because Medicaid didn't cover the services. Apparently, providing health information on their websites or a training class for doctors is enough to claim a public benefit. Any money these hospitals have laying around they use to build newer and bigger facilities or completely unnecessary elevated trains used by a small number of people daily. Affordable health care is the least of their concern.

6 comments:

spooknp said...

I don't know why you slam the elevated train. The liability alone is likely worth it. The constant running of shuttle buses from 16th St. to IUPUI is likely to have a higher chance of a major accident, even a fatality, than the tram.

TheAlmightyCthulhu said...

Alright, something we agree completely on.

I for one, think that if they're going to claim non-profit status, there needs to be a limit on salaries for job classifications, and they need to do at least a substantial amount of their work for the financially insolvent, in the form of free or sliding scale fee operations, 20% or so should be the absolute minimum.

If they can't agree to that, then they should pay taxes like the for-profit hospitals do.

Jason said...

A director of a nonprofit can set his/her salary at whatever level they wish, so long as it's not based upon the revenue of the company, if I'm not mistaken.

Can't speak for the suburban networks, but I know Clarian and Wishard both run their ER's very, very, very extremely DEEPLY in the red. Less than 10% of the people who walk into the Wishard ER for treatment pay for it. Methodist isn't much better. That may not qualify as charity, but it's a big sacrifice that's willingly made.

There are hundreds (maybe thousands?) of patients that walk into Methodist and/or Wishard, get treatment, walk out the door, and come back a week later. Many of these people would qualify for federal healthcare but don't bother signing up because either way they don't have to pay for it.

I would agree on the hospital administrators having their pay set, in part, on a performance standard. Even that, though, is sketchy at best since you've got dozens of private doctors/consultant groups operating more or less independently out of both of them....

spooknp said...

Can't speak for the suburban networks, but I know Clarian and Wishard both run their ER's very, very, very extremely DEEPLY in the red. Less than 10% of the people who walk into the Wishard ER for treatment pay for it. Methodist isn't much better. That may not qualify as charity, but it's a big sacrifice that's willingly made.

It is a big rip-off as well. I was hurt on the job at IUPUI. While I felt OK when the ambulance got there, I was told by supervisors to get checked out because it is better to be safe than sorry. It was basically exhaustion/lack of fluids during one of the hottest days of the summer. The Wishard ambulance crew game me fluids (my blood pressure was low, real low) and some sugar type substance. They drove me non-emergency to IU Hospital ER, which was maybe a half mile drive. That was $1,000. Then, I was at the IU ER and the nurse took my vitals and the doctor came in and said "just make sure you stay hydrated." I was in and out of the ER within 15 mins. and that costs $1,000. $2,000 for fuel usage of .5 miles, some suger substance, the bag of fluids, and the wages of the people who treated me within a 20 min. time period.

Jacob Perry said...

While I think there is some sort of requirement for such facilities to devote a certain percentage of revenue to "charity" (the figure 6% keeps popping up in my head), I'm not sure if that figure takes into account the staggering sums written off as uncollected, particularly from those who use the ER as a primary physician (or are illegal, as is typically the case with Wishard and Methodist).

What I've often wondered is why said hospitals didn't open a string of free local community clinics for walk-in immediate care. That would likely reduce the load on their ER's, and certainly qualify them as non-profit under anyone's standards.

Hoffman8 said...

Speaking of Charity =) I just started a new blog. Please take a look, I would greatly appreciate it! Pass it along, leave comments, suggestions, criticisms. It's short, so if you hate it, at least it won't eat up your time!

http://www.helpforhumanity.blogspot.com/

Thanks so much!

fellow hoosier, well BOILER :)