Uncompensated Care

What is Uncompensated Care?

According to the American Hospital Association, “Uncompensated care is an overall measure of hospital care provided for which no payment was received from the patient or insurer. It is the sum of a hospital’s “bad debt” and the charity care it provides. Charity care is care for which hospitals never expected to be reimbursed. A hospital incurs bad debt when it cannot obtain reimbursement for care provided. This happens when patients are unable to pay their bills, but did not apply for charity care, or are unwilling to pay their bills. Uncompensated care excludes other unfunded costs of care, such as underpayment from Medicaid and Medicare.”

“In terms of accounting, bad debt consists of services for which hospitals anticipated but did not receive payment. Charity care, in contrast, consists of services for which hospitals neither received, nor expected to receive, payment because they had determined the patient’s inability to pay. In practice, however, hospitals have difficulty in distinguishing bad debt from charity care.”


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