St. Louis hospital profits surge as bad debt drops, report shows

In terms of financial performance, 2015 was a good year for most St. Louis area hospitals, according to a new report.

The St. Louis Area Business Health Coalition found that, in aggregate, operating profit soared 45 percent as revenue increased about 6 percent for 2015, the most recent data available.

“While hospitals were more profitable, it is unclear if profit growth was driven mostly by price increases or more efficient care delivery,” the report said.

Although operating expenses grew 5 percent, the most striking part of the report, its author said, was the sharp decline in bad debt, or in other words, unpaid bills. This was the first time bad debt decreased since the organization began releasing its annual reports in 1982.

Charity care, or medical services that are provided for free to uninsured and low-income patients, also decreased — by 13 percent.

Karen Roth, director of research for the coalition and author of the report, said bad debt and charity care probably declined because hospitals saw more insured patients as a result of the Affordable Care Act.

Read more: St. Louis Post Dispatch, St. Louis Business Journal

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