Survey: California hospitals struggle with patients who can't pay

A survey performed in November 2008 shows that more Californians are struggling to pay for medical care, or just plain giving it up because they know they can't afford it.

In total, 82 chief financial officers of acute-care hospitals responded to the survey, which was conducted by the California Hospital Association. A 73 percent increase was reported in the number of patients having difficulty paying for healthcare costs for which they were responsible.

Meanwhile, there was a 30 percent decline in the number of elective procedures performed, and 33 percent of hospitals reported that there has been an increase in the number of uninsured patients coming to their emergency rooms.

Furthermore, it couldn't be a worse time for all of this to occur. After all, 70 percent of the hospitals surveyed admitted that the stock market drop had a moderate or significant effect on their overall financial condition.

The result is the same as what we've seen around the country. Many hospitals are being forced to put expansion or remodeling projects on hold, or are unable to purchase new equipment due to lack of financing. And in California, there's another concern: Nearly 40 percent of the hospitals surveyed said that the loss of available financing will make them unable to meet state seismic mandate deadlines in 2013 or 2015.

To learn more about the survey results:
- read this Modern Healthcare piece (reg. req.)