Alternative Funding Policies for the Uninsured: Exploring the Value of Hospital Tax Exemption

The tax exemption accorded private, nonprofit hospitals is being subjected to more scrutiny as the numbers of uninsured grow; meanwhile, charity care competes with marker-driven priorities. Current public policies tie hospital tax exemption to the provision of charity care, but there is a gap in the size and distribution of values between tax exemption and the charity care that: is provided. Most hospitals, in a study reported here, provided free care at a level below the value of their tax exemption, even when 50 percent of bad debt was included in the care value. However, hospitals in the poorest communities offered considerably more care than the value of their tax exemption, whereas those in wealthier communities offered considerably less. Policies at local, state, and federal levels should be designed to exert leverage on hospitals to provide free care at a level commensurate with the value of their tax exemptions.

Author(s): Nancy M. Kane; William H. Wubbenhorst

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Volume 78, Issue 2 (pages 185–212)
DOI: 10.1111/1468-0009.00168
Published in 2000