What is driving the cost of health care?

| Print |  Email
Articles - May 2013
Monday, April 29, 2013

Cost shifting

Since uninsured patients can’t afford to see a doctor or partake of preventive treatments, they typically end up in costly emergency rooms for their primary care. According to the Oregon Association of Hospitals & Health Systems (OAHHS), the state’s annual number of emergency room visits rose 5% between 2007 and 2011, and outpatient visits rose 15%. Inpatient days — when a doctor has ordered a patient to be admitted — fell 3%, with fewer inpatient admissions and shorter lengths of stays. With 320 ER visits per 1,000 people in 2010, Oregon fared better than 42 other states, but, unfortunately, many of these visits are on the house.

When hospitals deem a patient unable to pay, they provide “charity care,” which ballooned nearly 600% in the decade ending in 2011. “Bad debt,” hospital bills that patients refuse to pay, rose almost 150% in the same period. Together charity care and bad debt comprise what hospitals call “uncompensated care.” In Oregon’s urban areas, uncompensated care approached 8% of gross charges after the last recession — it neared 9% in Oregon’s rural hospitals — before improving in 2011.

To make up for these losses, hospitals can’t look to government programs. Medicare pays just 81 cents, and Medicaid 86 cents, for each “dollar spent caring for beneficiaries,” OAHHS claims. So ultimately, hospitals must balance budgets by “cost shifting” losses and deficits to the bills of private-insurance patients. In the end, lowering hospital bills will require tackling enormous twin challenges of bad debt and charity care.

0513 Data Graph 02

SOURCE: OREGON INSURANCE DIVISION

0513 Data Facts 02

SOURCES: OREGON INSURANCE DIVISION, OAHHS, OREGON EMPLOYMENT DEPT.

 



 

More Articles

Balancing Act

July/August 2015
Friday, July 10, 2015
BY DAN COOK

The Affordable Care Act has triggered a rush on health care plan redesign, a process fraught with hidden costs and consequences.


Read more...

The Backstory: Portland Youth Builders

The Latest
Wednesday, June 03, 2015
blog002 1BY JASON E. KAPLAN | STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER

As part of our green workplaces story, Oregon Business checked out a community service project undertaken by Portland Youth Builders, a nonprofit alternative high school. In partnership with Whole Foods, PYB built garden boxes for a Home Forward  housing site. Home Forward is a government agency that provides housing for low income residents and people with disabilities.


Read more...

Business partnerships: taming the three-headed monster

Contributed Blogs
Monday, July 06, 2015
070615-businessmarriagefail-thumbBY KATHERINE HEEKIN | OB GUEST COLUMNIST

Picking a business partner is not much different than choosing a spouse or life partner, and the business break-up can be as heart-wrenching and costly as divorce.


Read more...

House of Clarity

July/August 2015
Monday, July 13, 2015
BY JACOB PALMER

Holding a Power Lunch at Veritable Quandary in downtown Portland.


Read more...

Preserving the Legacy

July/August 2015
Monday, July 13, 2015
BY KIM MOORE | PHOTOS BY JASON E. KAPLAN

A New York floral and gift business takes on the iconic Harry & David brand.


Read more...

Photo log: Murray's Pharmacy

The Latest
Friday, July 17, 2015
OBM-Heppner-Kaplan thumbBY JASON KAPLAN

Photographer Jason Kaplan takes a look at Murray's Pharmacy in Heppner.  The family owned business is run by John and Ann Murray, who were featured in our July/August cover story: 10 Innovators in Rural Health Care.


Read more...

Stemming the tide of money in politics

Linda Baker
Wednesday, June 10, 2015
 jeff-lang-2012-thumbBY LINDA BAKER

Jeff Lang and his wife Rae used to dole out campaign checks like candy.  “We were like alcoholics,” Lang says. ”We couldn’t just give a little.”


Read more...
Oregon Business magazinetitle-sponsored-links-02
SPONSORED LINKS