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Uncompensated Care for Uninsured in 2013: a Detailed Examination

A new Urban Institute report prepared for the Kaiser Commission on Medicaid and the Uninsured takes a close look at uncompensated care for the uninsured. It examines the cost, the service sites providing uncompensated care, the sources of funding, and cost shifting for unfunded costs of compensated care. Here are the highlights:

  • A patient uninsured the entire year incurred lower medical expenses on average — $2,443 compared to an insured patient’s average annual expense of $4,876.
  • In 2013 the cost of uncompensated care provided to the uninsured was $84.9 billion.
  • To partially offset provider costs for uncompensated care, the federal government paid providers $32.8 billion in 2013, state and local government paid $19.8 billion, and the private sector contributed $0.7 billion — an overall total of $53.3 billion.
  • Hospitals provided 60% of the uncompensated care, while community based clinics and health centers provided 26% and office-based physicians 14%.
  • The authors estimate uncompensated care cost-shifting to private insurers may be in the 2.3%-4.6% range.

While the new health law is designed to reduce both the number of uninsured and the level of funding for uncompensated care, it is still unclear what the outcome will be for providers and uncompensated care costs.

Source: Couglin TA and others, Urban Institute. Uncompensated care for uninsured in 2013: a detailed examination. Kaiser Commission on Medicaid and the Uninsured. May 30. 2014. http://kff.org/uninsured/report/uncompensated-care-for-the-uninsured-in-2013-a-detailed-examination/

Posted by AHA Resource Center (312) 422-2050, rc@aha.org

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