Sponsored by Lane Powell

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

Tweeting Portland's State of the City address

News
Friday, January 30, 2015
Screen Shot 2015-01-30 at 3.08.19 PMBY JACOB PALMER | OB DIGITAL NEWS EDITOR

For those who were working, here are a few highlights of Charlie Hales' State of the City address.


Read more...

Closing the Gap: The two Oregons and the way forward

February 2015
Monday, January 26, 2015
BY JOE CORTRIGHT

"Nostalgia is not an economic strategy."


Read more...

Live, Work, Play: Amen Teter

February 2015
Tuesday, January 27, 2015
BY JACOB PALMER

Catching up with Amen Teter, Portland-based global director of action sports for Octagon Olympics & Action sports talent agency.


Read more...

Nuclear fingerprints

March 2015
Tuesday, February 24, 2015
BY LINDA BAKER | OB EDITOR

At Oregon State University, a 21st century version of the bad dream — nuclear terrorism — is alive and well. This winter, the Department of Nuclear Physics and Radiation Health Physics created a new interdisciplinary graduate emphasis in nuclear forensics, a Sherlock Holmes-sounding program that aims to identify how and where confiscated nuclear and radiological materials were created.


Read more...

Grassroots movement pursues carbon bills

News
Tuesday, February 24, 2015
eventthumbBY KIM MOORE | OB RESEARCH EDITOR

A partnership of a grassroots environmental organization and a youth group is striving to build community and business support for carbon price legislation.


Read more...

How Oregon will survive the loss of Hanjin

March 2015
Friday, February 20, 2015
BY JOE CORTRIGHT | OB CONTRIBUTOR

"Shipping containers to Portland is like waiting for a bus that travels once a day."


Read more...

Umbrella Revolution

March 2015
Monday, February 23, 2015

Yeah, we know: Oregonians are way too cool for umbrellas. But today’s stylish, high-tech models will soften the resistance of the most rain hardened.


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