Hospital costs for patients who did not pay or could not afford to hit $26.9 billion in 2004, an 8% increase from 2003, the American Hospital Association said. The cost of patients' unpaid bills accounted for 5.6% of hospitals' total expenses last year. That's a slight increase from 5.5% in 2003, but still one of the lowest percentages reported since 1984. The association calculated uncompensated-care costs -- rather than charges -- based on hospital responses to its 2004 survey and using a formula that did not include discounts for Medicaid, Medicare or private insurers. The AHA said 85% of U.S. hospitals responded. -- by Melanie Evans
Hospitals see rise in uncompensated care: AHA
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