JEFFERSON CITY — Missouri hospitals have been writing off more "charity care" for patients while also reporting a greater amount of unpaid bills.
Charity care is provided by hospitals without any expectation of payment.
A new report released by the Missouri Foundation for Health says that hospitals' charity care costs rose from about $62 million in 2004 to nearly $160 million in 2008, which was the latest year analyzed. The increase in charity care came as the percentage of people without insurance also rose slightly.
Hospitals also saw an increase in their "bad debts" for patients, where payment is expected but not fully collected.
The study found that bad-debt expenses for hospitals increased from $137 million in 2004 to nearly $257 million in 2008.