Financial Challenges, Including Amount of Bad Debt, Keeping Hospital CEOs Awake

The amount of bad debt is keeping hospital chief executive officers awake at night, according to the results of a poll conducted by the American College of Healthcare Executives.

For the third consecutive year, financial challenges are the top concern facing hospitals, according to the survey. Within financial challenges, the amount of bad debt was the fourth-highest complaint, trailing increasing costs for staff and supplies, Medicaid reimbursement, and reducing operating costs. Fifty-six percent of the 355 respondents indicated that bad debt was one of the three most important challenges in the coming year.

“The survey results indicate that leaders are working to overcome challenges of balancing limited reimbursements against the rising costs of attracting and retaining talented staff to provide that care, among other things,” ACHE president and CEO Deborah Bowen said in a statement.

The amount of bad debt includes uncollectible emergency department and other charges, and coincidentally enough, there was a published report yesterday detailing how a 39-year-old man from Charlotte, N.C., who fainted after getting a flu shot was billed $4,692 for spending eight hours in the emergency room. The hospital assessed a $2,961 admission fee just for walking in the door. The man appealed the bill to the hospital, but the hospital did not adjust the bill.

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