Nonprofit Newswire | The “Make Believe” Nonprofitness of Some Nonprofit Hospitals

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July 31, 2010; Source: Orlando Sentinel | This is a very good article about the challenges nonprofit hospitals face in convincing the public that they are truly nonprofit. Truth be told, some of the feints and strategems used by some nonprofit hospitals to prove their charitable bona fides are a little dubious, for example, the “make believe number(s)” that some nonprofit hospitals use to calculate their charity care costs (see the $11,000 cost of an appendectomy that is charged against a charity care patient versus around half that amount paid by insurance companies for covered patients). The problem is that some critics think that nonprofit means an organization should lose money, which is silly and dysfunctional. But the huge profits of many nonprofit hospitals—and their sometimes callous treatment of poor patients versus covered or privately paying patients—sticks in some people’s craws. With health care reform, this debate will be revisited and expanded to ask, what really constitutes a nonprofit hospital?—Rick Cohen