Preventive Charity Care

Something different: a collaborative project between Twin Cities hospitals and Portico Healthnet is looking to spend charity care dollars on prevention.  From the Minneapolis Star Tribune:

Now Twin Cities hospitals are going to try an ounce of prevention.

Stung by a sharp increase in charity care, a number of area hospitals are going to fund preventive care at nearby clinics for people with no insurance precisely so they don’t have medical emergencies later.

Starting in January, Abbott Northwestern Hospital, Fairview Southdale Hospital, North Memorial Medical Center, Hennepin County Medical Center and the University of Minnesota Medical Center will contribute a total of $500,000 for the year toward annual physicals, screenings and other primary care at clinics affiliated with the hospitals.

An earlier implemented Portico project has shown results:

Portico says the strategy works: Emergency room visits in the east metro area dropped 33 percent in 2006 for new enrollees. Inpatient hospitalizations dropped 35 percent.

It will be interesting to see how far $500,000 of preventive charity care will go.  Hospitals often bear the burden of the uninsured when they do seek care.  Most hospitals are not-for-profit and are expected to provide this benefit.  We’re getting closer to the breaking point, however.  The demands of the modern hospital industry require management of the charity care benefit.  Spending those dollars wisely to benefit the largest number of patients is becoming increasingly difficult.  Innovative approaches are always applauded.

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