|•||To what extent do the hospitals in Miami-Dade County share the burden of uncompensated care?|
|•||Is the funding of uncompensated care associated with the hospital at which patients are treated?|
Our analysis of hospital financial data focused on the levels of uncompensated care—that is, the sum of charity care and bad debt— that Miami-Dade hospitals provide. Charity care is care provided to persons who have no financial means or insurance to pay for it, that is, the hospital does not expect to be compensated. Bad debt, in contrast, involves some expectation of payment that ultimately is not realized. Bad debt comprises the hospital bills of self-pay patients who are found to be not eligible for state or federal programs such as Medicaid, the unpaid co-payments of persons with health insurance, and other revenue shortfalls. Like earlier researchers, we analyzed the combination of charity care and bad debt, but we separated them for cross-hospital comparisons.
The level of uncompensated care reported by hospitals in MiamiDade County is similar to that experienced by hospitals nationally. All hospitals in Miami-Dade County provided some level of uncompensated care in 1999, although two investor-owned hospitals reported that they did not provide any charity care.
Depending upon how the 0.5 percent sales surtax approved in Florida in 1991 is allocated to offset the costs of charity care, the level