Uncompensated Care Heads to VUMC, Rise Smaller than Predicted

New figures are out regarding treatment for the uninsured in Nashville. Vanderbilt Medical Center remains the primary caregiver, writing off some $228 million in unpaid medical bills last year.

One reason Vanderbilt accounts for more than 45% of all uncompensated care in the city is that that the hospital has so many specialties.

The Medical Center’s finance chief, Warren Beck, says the other factor is that Vanderbilt has a total continuum of care for nearly every patient. Meaning someone who walks in the ER with a gunshot wound doesn’t go somewhere else for physical therapy.

“That option doesn’t actually exist here within Vanderbilt. Once you’re in our system, you’re in our system until you’re admitted and you’re discharged.”

Vanderbilt’s share of treating patients who can’t pay stayed about the same as in past years. The total amount spent remained relatively flat as well, but the hospital expects to see a $60 million spike for fiscal year 2009.

The next largest share of uninsured care falls to the city-subsidized Metro General Hospital, which accounted for 13% last year. Across Nashville, hospitals collectively reported a six percent increase in uncompensated care for 2008.

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