U.S. acute-care hospitals provided $22.3 billion in uncompensated care in 2002, representing 5.4% of their total expenses, the American Hospital Association said. Although aggregate spending on uncompensated care is up from $21.5 billion in 2001, spending as a percent of total hospital expenses is down from 5.6% in 2001 because of faster growth in overall hospital expenses, such as labor and malpractice insurance costs, said Carmela Coyle, the AHA's senior vice president of policy. Uncompensated care includes charity care, for which no payment was expected, and bad debt, for which payment was expected. Hospitals are treating more uninsured people, estimated to number about 43.6 million in the U.S., while bad debt is rising, Coyle said. -- by Patrick Reilly
AHA: Uncompensated care hit $22.3 billion in 2002
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