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Economic Downturn Takes Toll on California Hospitals
Date:1/7/2009

New Report Shows 73 Percent Increase in Patients Unable to Pay Out-of-Pocket Costs, 33 Percent Rise in Uninsured Patients Visiting Hospital ERs

SACRAMENTO, Calif., Jan. 7 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The economic recession gripping the nation is having a dramatic impact on California's community hospitals, according to a newly released special report by the California Hospital Association (CHA).

The report, which is based on a survey conducted in November 2008 among hospital chief financial officers (CFOs), shows a 73 percent increase in consumers having difficulty paying their out-of-pocket health care costs, and a 33 percent increase in uninsured patients visiting the ER. Additionally, California hospitals are reporting a 30 percent decrease in volume for elective procedures - one of the few areas that provide hospitals an opportunity for revenue growth.

"As more people lose their jobs in this declining economy, they also are losing their job-based health insurance," said CHA's President and CEO C. Duane Dauner. "The growing number of uninsured patients, coupled with inadequate Medi-Cal payments and the ripple effects of the financial market crisis, is leading to a decline in the financial health of California's hospitals at the very time when demand for health care services is growing."

California already ranks 49th in the nation in the availability of hospital beds, with only 1.9 hospital beds per 1,000 population. And, the state comes in dead-last nationally when it comes to funding health care for Medicaid (Medi-Cal) patients. As a result of the declining economy and inadequate Medi-Cal payments, Californians may soon find their access to hospital care further diminished. According to the CHA survey, the majority of hospitals have already made cutbacks or anticipate having to make reductions in patient care services in the near future. Among the service lines at risk are c
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SOURCE California Hospital Association
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