U.S. hospitals provided a record-high $45.9 billion in unreimbursed care to indigent and underinsured patients in 2012, an 11.7 percent increase over 2011, according to a new American Hospital Association (AHA) report. The uncompensated care total includes charity care and bad debt but excludes Medicaid and Medicare underpayment. 340B hospitals provide 62 percent of all hospital uncompensated care in America, AHA noted last month in an infographic about the 340B program.
Hospitals have provided $347.7 billion in unreimbursed care since 2003, AHA says. Bad debt and charity care accounted for 6.1 percent of total hospital expenses in 2012, the highest such percentage in a decade.
Congress created the 340B program to help safety-net health care providers cope with the cost of uncompensated care. Hospital unreimbursed care has risen from $14.7 billion in 1992, the year that 340B was established, to $45.9 billion in 2012. Total U.S. spending on prescription drugs skyrocketed during the same period, from $47 billion to $326 billion.