Hospitals blame rising deductibles for patients who can't pay

A skin care nurse marks the chest tube dressing.
A skin care nurse marks the chest tube dressing of an ICU patient at HCMC in Minneapolis.
Judy Griesedieck for MPR News

Minnesota hospitals say they're providing more care that's not paid for.

The industry trade group says that's largely because more patients face health insurance deductibles they can't afford.

Minnesota Hospital Association CEO Lawrence Massa said uncompensated care totaled $580 million in 2016.

"Someone that has a $10,000 deductible that's making $12 a hour, there's really not going to be much expectation that we're going to receive a lot of that $10,000," he said. "So, they (hospitals) are writing off those things."

Unpaid hospital bills rose 3 percent to $374 million. Charity care, for which no payment is expected, increased by about 19 percent to $205 million.

Meanwhile, hospitals expect further increases in unpaid care because Congress has repealed the federal requirement that individuals have health coverage.

The association says hospitals have adjusted charity care and financial assistance policies to help low-income patients.

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