Minnesota hospitals see big drop in uncompensated care


In Minnesota, which has been one of the states friendliest to the Affordable Care Act, levels of uncompensated care have dropped significantly in recent years due to the implementation of the federal healthcare reform law.

Uncompensated care dropped by 12 percent between 2015 and 2014, to $268 million from $305 million, according to information released this week by the Minnesota Department of Public Health. It has dropped 16.7 percent since the ACA was implemented in 2013, and is at 2008 levels. In 2013, it stood at $321 million, a record, the Star Tribune reports

A total of 97 hospitals said their uncompensated care costs dropped last month, although 34 facilities said they reported an increase. Hennepin County Medical Center, the safety-net provider in Minneapolis, provided the most uncompensated care in the state, followed by the Mayo Clinic.

The department noted that the ACA has led to 213,000 more Minnesotans having health insurance last year compared to 2013, dropping the uninsured rate to 4.3 percent last year, down from 8.2 percent in 2013.

“While we still have significant challenges to ensure that all Minnesotans have access to high-quality healthcare at affordable rates, this drop in charity care and bad debt is a positive sign that reflects our progress in reducing the number of Minnesotans going without coverage,” said Minnesota Health Commissioner Ed Ehlinger in the statement.

Minnesota is among several other states that have seen steep drops in uncompensated care provided by hospitals. In Ohio, the levels dropped off 64 percent between 2013 and last year. In Kentucky, uncompensated care dropped even further, down 77 percent since 2012. Most of the steepest reductions occurred in states that agreed to expand Medicaid eligibility under the ACA. Altogether, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services estimated that Medicaid expansion cut uncompensated care by $7.4 billion in 2014.