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Oregon hospitals say charity care continues to climb


Oregon’s community hospitals are again spending more on charity care, despite having one of the lowest rates of uninsured residents in the country, according to a newly released financial performance report by Apprise Health Insights from the second quarter of 2018.

Despite the increase, median operating margins held steady from the same period last year, the Oregon Association of Hospitals and Health Systems said Monday in a news release, which continues below.

Median charity care as a percentage of total charges increased to 1.7% (compared to 1.6% in Q2 2016). Seven of the last eight quarters have seen an increase in seasonally adjusted Charity Care.

Meanwhile, operating margins stabilized after large drops in 2017. Median margins came in at 4.5% in Q2 2018 after a drop to -0.8% in the final quarter of last year. The overall median operating margin for Oregon hospitals in 2017 was 0.5%.

“These numbers show that, despite expanded coverage, many Oregonians are uninsured or can’t pay the deductible in their health plan,” said Andy Van Pelt, executive vice president of the Oregon Association of Hospitals and Health Systems. “Hospitals treat everyone regardless of ability to pay, but it’s important to note the increases in charity care indicate lack of adequate coverage. That’s an issue our state needs to continue to tackle.”

The charity care numbers stand in contrast to the widely held view that charity care has been essentially eliminated in Oregon due to the Affordable Care Act, the organization said. While charity care costs are below pre-ACA levels, they are on an upward trend as many patients continue to need free or reduced-price services.

Inpatient discharges continue to decline in Q2 2018 over last year, dropping by some 100,000. That corresponds with an increase in outpatient visits, which rose by around 200,000 in Q2 2018 over the same quarter in 2017. Outpatient utilization has climbed steadily in Oregon for several years.

To read the entire report, visit under “Understanding the Data” or click here.

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