Health Reform Could Mean An Increase in Patient Volume for Hospitals

With a sweeping overhaul of the nation’s health care system, Congress would be giving the health care industry as many as 32 million additional paying customers in the next few years. That means 32 million more paying customers for hospitals.

According to the New York Times, “Hospitals and drug makers, which supported the final legislation, would be clear beneficiaries, analysts say, even if the outlook for insurers was less certain.”

The article goes on to say that hospitals have little to fear. The number of newly insured is expected to decrease significantly the amount that hospitals now lose each year when they provide care to people with no means to pay. The questions become:

  • Will an increase in Medicaid patients, which typically pays less than the costs, be a mixed blessing?
  • Are hospitals already treating these patients with no reimbursement?

ABC News states:

“Increased insurance coverage will go a long way toward easing hospitals’ financial pain. With the expansion of Medicaid and a mandate to buy coverage, hospitals will erase most of their bad debt within five years.”

So what does this mean for you? Coverage isn’t required until 2013, which leaves plenty of time to put plans in place to address the reform. What to look for:

  • Check projections for how increased coverage affects your hospital
  • Target your marketing: Just because 32 million more people may have coverage doesn’t mean you need to market them
  • Check your Medicaid reimbursements: Medicaid reimburses well for some DRGs. These would be ideal DRG’s for a marketing campaign.

Let me know, how will health reform affect your hospital?


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2 Responses to Health Reform Could Mean An Increase in Patient Volume for Hospitals

  1. Steve Schwalbe says:

    Agree with your basic premise on more patients with at least some coverage. But if coverage erases most of charity care, what happens to not for profit status? Chances are we will be taxed and the proceeds will help offset additional cost of the govt support. Not being talked about but should be.

    • Great point! This will definitely be a policy debate coming on a local and national level. For example after seven years of proceedings, the Illinois Supreme Court recently upheld the decision of the Illinois Department of Revenue denying a real property tax exemption for Provena Covenant Medical Center.

      There are possible other ways to help justify tax exempt status such as:
      • Charity care still providing (everyone will not be covered)
      • Research and education

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