SPOTLIGHT: Nonprofit Hospitals Not Providing Charity Care

The two nonprofit hospitals in Pueblo, Colorado are exempt from most federal or state taxes. In return, they are supposed to provide charity care to low-income patients, but recent financial data shows they aren’t providing nearly enough to justify the millions in tax breaks they receive.

Last year, Parkview Medical Center provided 0.75% of its operating expenses, about $4.2 million, in free care. Low levels of charity care have translated into more debt for low-income residents. In Pueblo, the median amount of medical debt is $975 – 40% higher than the U.S. as a whole.

The average hospital in the U.S. spends only 1.9% of its operating expenses on charity care.

Nonprofits not providing adequate charity care is common in the United States– and most hospitals get away with it. Lawmakers are cracking down and calling for action to hold nonprofit hospitals accountable.