WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. – Charity care provided by Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center increased by 38 percent and the cost of providing Medicare and Medicaid services nearly quadrupled during the 2009 fiscal year, based on Community Benefits reports filed with the N.C. Medical Care Commission.
Wake Forest Baptist’s community benefits for the fiscal year that ended June 30, 2009, totaled $146.3 million, a 33 percent increase over the previous year. The figures are a combined total of N.C. Baptist Hospital and Wake Forest University Health Sciences, which are components of Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center.
The cost of providing Charity care increased from $32.1 to $44.3 million. The total does not include the cost of providing care resulting in bad debt for services on which the Medical Center was unable to collect – an additional $24.4 million. The increase reflected an increased need for charity care due to declining economic conditions, expansion of the charity care definitions to include a broader patient population as well as the increased cost of providing care.
The cost of serving patients with Medicare, Medicaid and other government programs jumped from $8.7 million in 2008 to $32.6 million in 2009. The cost represents the difference between the government program reimbursement and the actual cost of providing those services. Payment levels and cost vary with different diagnoses, and in many cases the shortfall is substantial. The sharp increase was due to several factors, including an increased number of Medicare patients due to the aging population, an increased number of Medicaid patients due to the economy, and the fact that the costs of providing care have increased while government reimbursement has remained relatively flat.
The total funding of other community benefits reflected a slight increase. Additional community benefits include community health improvement services such as health education and screenings for the public, donations and sponsorship of community events such as the Komen NC Triad Race for the Cure, unreimbursed costs of providing medical and health education, and the uncovered costs of conducting research.
“As our region’s only academic medical center, Wake Forest Baptist contributes uniquely to the health and well-being of Forsyth County and the Piedmont Triad,” said John D. McConnell, M.D., Wake Forest Baptist’s chief executive officer. “As an academic medical center, we accept our responsibility to provide services above and beyond other health care providers. Those include extensive community-based programs, a research mission that contributes to providing the best medical care, and training of tomorrow’s health care professionals, many of whom will stay to practice in the community. “
An annual Community Benefits report is required by the N.C Medical Care Commission of non-profit health care providers that receive tax-exempt revenue bonds to finance construction and equipment projects. Below is a summary of the Wake Forest Baptist reports for fiscal year 2009. More information is available online at wfubmc.edu/Community-Benefits.htm.
Charity care (excludes bad debt*)
Non-reimbursed Medicare, Medicaid and other government programs costs
Community health improvement services, community benefit operations, non-billed services, community building activities, donations
Subsidized health/community services
*Hospital estimated cost of treating bad debt patients: $24,447,060, (not included in the figures above).
**Figure is only research not covered by external funding sources. Total research spending was about $190 million.