Nationwide, hospitals provided $39.3 billion in uncompensated care during 2010, including provisions for bad debt--numbers that have risen grudgingly during tough economic times, reported AHA News Now.
The 2010 total is only about 15 percent higher than in 2007, when the Great Recession began and the number of uninsured Americans began to soar. In that year, uncompensated care reached $34 billion. It reached $36.4 billion in 2008 and $39.1 billion in 2009.
Uncompensated care rose at a faster annual clip between 2002 and 2005, when it increased nearly 30 percent, from $22.3 billion to $28.9 billion.
The amount of total hospital expenses comprising uncompensated care was 5.8 percent in 2010, down slightly from 6 percent in 2009, which had been the highest ratio in nearly a decade. Between 1993 and 2000, the percentage of overall expenses ran more than 6 percent per year.
The data reported by hospitals does not include Medicare and Medicaid underpayments, or other discounts provided to contracted payers.