Charity Care Costs Increase in Bismarck Hospitals | VideoMichelle San Miguel | 7/1/2012
"We`re experiencing more and more bad debt charity care because it`s difficult for people to afford health care," said Dr. Craig Lambrecht, CEO and president of Medcenter One.
In 2010, Medcenter One spent $9.3 million in charity care. The following year that number spiked to $12.8 million. Dr. Lambrecht doesn`t think the Affordable Care Act will reduce that expense.
"Bad debt and charity care are going to be there because it`s still going to be a struggle for them- people to get health insurance and pay their medical bills. I don`t think that`s ever going to go away, especially with more people coming into the state, coming into Bismarck-Mandan."
As for those who will be eligible for Medicaid coverage in 2014, Lambrecht says he believes those patients would have sought medical care even if Medicaid had not been expanded.
At St. Alexius, CEO and President Gary Miller is concerned those newly eligible Medicaid patients are being admitted into a program that he says is already underfunded. Miller says for every dollar spent on Medicaid patients in North Dakota, the state gets back 85 cents.
"I think we are gonna see more uninsured patients now come onto the Medicaid system and they will pick up coverage that has not been there before, but I also think that some of the lower-level commercial plans they`ll be dropping off of those and into the Medicaid program."
Miller says he expects there to be a leveling off between those two groups under the new insurance exchanges.
Under the Affordable Care Act, the federal government will fully pay for newly eligible Medicaid patients until 2016. Then the states will begin paying for some of those expenses, maxing out at 10 percent after 2019.