‘Greed is eroding the role that nonprofit hospitals are supposed to play in the economy,’ says Katy Talento
WASHINGTON — Nonprofit hospitals are required to provide charity care and other community benefits in exchange for tax-exempt status. But recent studies indicate they are earning more than ever while spending less on charity.
The average operating profits for “nonprofit” hospitals grew from $43 million in 2012 to $58.6 million by 2019, according to a study in Health Affairs. Meanwhile, cash reserves increased on average from $133.3 million to $224.3 million. At the same time, spending on charity care decreased during that time period — from $6.7 million in 2012 to $6.4 million.
“Shouldn’t the charity care provided by tax-exempt hospitals have gone up as their average profit has increased almost 40 percent?” asks Katy Talento, executive director of the Alliance of Health Care Sharing Ministries (The Alliance, ahcsm.org). “Greed is eroding the role that nonprofit hospitals are supposed to play in the economy.
“Thank God for Health Care Sharing Ministries, which help their members navigate the thicket of nonprofit as well as for-profit services.”
People with health insurance, which is a contract with a third party to pay for medical treatment in exchange for premiums, often face cold and bureaucratic customer service. Premium dollars go to services for other people in the same risk pool that violate their religious beliefs, such as abortion or surgical and chemical gender mutilation.
By contrast, members of Health Care Sharing Ministries are not forced to subsidize such services. What’s more, Health Care Sharing Ministries can help their members fight back against the greed and profiteering at hospitals by providing expert negotiating assistance for medical bills.
“Consumers often assume that nonprofit/charity hospitals won’t gouge, but patients are forced to face the harsh reality when the bills arrive,” Talento says. “Another common complaint we hear is about too much bureaucracy at every level. Health Care Sharing Ministries cut through a lot of red tape. Since 2021, federal transparency law has required hospitals to reveal secret costs, but the current administration has largely given a pass to the more than 85% of hospitals that flout the rules. Illegally hiding prices is where the rip offs start. Garnishing wages of low-income earners and sending them into a black hole of more financial hardship is often how it plays out.”
One of the country’s largest nonprofit hospital chains, Providence, paid $45 million to consultants from McKinsey to develop the “Rev-Up” program designed to maximize revenue by denying poor patients charity care that they’re entitled to under federal law, according to the New York Times. The program bullied hospital employees into becoming bullies themselves, directing them to threaten patients with debt collection companies and bad credit.
“Unfortunately, nonprofit hospitals have been getting away with this for years,” Talento says. “They have often created their own collection agencies and take aggressive legal action to extract payment from even the poorest patients.
“These hospitals have been known to pursue even their own employees for medical debt. Nonprofit hospitals pay no local, state or federal tax, yet a Memphis hospital was reported three years ago to have filed 8,300 lawsuits for unpaid medical bills in just five years.’”
Health Care Sharing Ministries help people stay out of debt by facilitating lower costs for Christian entrepreneurs and freelancers and much more flexibility.
“Millions of self-employed Americans aren’t part of the big health care system, and many are learning that Health Care Sharing Ministries are right for them,” Talento says.
To hear more from Katy Talento about nonprofit hospitals, click here.
Founded in 2007 and headquartered in Washington, D.C., the Alliance of Health Care Sharing Ministries is a 501(c)(6) trade organization representing the common interests of Health Care Sharing Ministries which are facilitating the sharing of health care needs (financial, emotional, and spiritual) by individuals and families, and their participants. The Alliance engages with federal and state regulators, members of the media, and the Christian community to provide accurate and timely information on health care sharing.
To interview a representative from The Alliance of Health Care Sharing Ministries, contact Media@HamiltonStrategies.com, Beth Harrison, 610.584.1096, ext. 105, or Deborah Hamilton, ext. 102.