Hospitals move from the city to the 'burbs

Over the past 25 years, hospitals have left urban areas with high populations of low-income and disabled residents to move to less populated suburban areas.

Most recently, Indiana University Health announced plans to merge its University and Methodist hospitals, closing facilities in Indianapolis, joining Franciscan St. Francis Health's Beach Grove Hospital and Winona Hospital in leaving the capital, according to the Indianapolis Business Journal blog The Dose.

IU Health will still operate two large medical centers in the downtown area, but the expansion is in the suburbs, according to the blog post. The hospitals follow the population, which has steadily moved away from the heart of the city since the 1950s. However, hospitals are also chasing privately-insured patients because they are the only profitable customers, according to the post, with Medicaid only covering roughly 60 percent of hospitals' cost of care of low-income patients.

In the greater Indianapolis area, private health insurers pay hospitals an average 264 percent more than Medicare pays for the same services. Now, privately insured patients make up more than 80 percent of the revenue in at least three hospitals in suburban Hamilton County.

Publicly owned hospitals and those that treat large populations of low-income patients are also most likely to receive penalties based on patient injury and infection rates, as are large and urban hospitals in the West or Northeast, FierceHealthcare previously reported.

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