Hospitals report drop in charity care

The value of charity care provided by hospitals in New Jersey declined by 3 percent in 2011, which may reflect a national improvement of the economy, as well as overall healthcare utilization trends, reported the Press of Atlantic City.

Overall, the Garden State's hospitals provided slightly more than $1 billion worth of charity care to uninsured and underinsured patients in charity care last year, but the total value was down about $33.5 million from 2010, when hospitals reached the all-time record, the article noted.

Hospital officials gave a variety of reasons for the shift. Jim Foley, chief financial officer for Shore Medical Center in Somers Point, said more patients living in the hospital's service area qualified for Medicaid, causing the value of its charity care to drop to $4.5 million in 2011, down from $8.3 million in 2010, according to the Press of Atlantic City.

There also were signals that more Americans are obtaining insurance. The number of uninsured in the United States dropped from 50 million in 2010 to about 48.6 million in 2011, according to

But the New Jersey Hospital Association (NJHA) said more patients are putting off elective procedures. "When the economy is bad, people very often delay elective procedures because they don't want to miss work, and that sort of thing. So we may very well be seeing that on the charity side as well," Kerry McKean Kelly of the NJHA told Newsworks.

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