Uncompensated care cost hospitals in 2015 bottomed out at the lowest level on record in 26 years, according to a recent study by the American Hospital Association.
In 2015, the most recent year data was available, uncompensated care nationwide cost hospitals $35.7 billion, representing 4.2 percent of total expenses, according to the AHA. This compares to 2014, when uncompensated care cost $42.8 billion and 5.3 percent of expenses.
The year 2013 showed higher uncompensated care costs of $46.6 billion and 5.9 percent of expenses. The high mark for uncompensated care costs since 1990 was in 1999, was 6.2 percent of expenses.
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The AHA said that since 2000, hospitals have provided more than $538 billion in uncompensated care to patients. This includes financial assistance for which hospitals never expect to be reimbursed, care provided at a reduced cost for those in need, and bad debt.
The AHA study gave no reason for the lower cost of uncompensated care figure in 2015, but on January 6 cited another study that said repeal of the Affordable Care Act could increase uncompensated care by $1.1 trillion over 10 years.
Partial repeal of the ACA could increase the number of uninsured by 29.8 million over ten years, the AHA said, citing a study by the Urban Institutes and Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. This would increase uncompensated care by $1.1 trillion between 2019 and 2028, including $296.1 billion in hospital care, the AHA said.
Many provisions of the ACA went into effect in 2014.