Balancing Act: Local hospitals juggle charity care, sustainability

July 8, 2018, Daily Journal, Michaela Gibson Morris- Northeast Mississippi hospitals give away millions in charity care annually, but they carry significantly higher loads of bad debt than other hospitals around the country. At the regional and state level, Mississippi hospitals carry much higher loads of bad debt. Nationally, bad debt, the uncollected bills that are written off as losses, averages 10 percent compared to net patient revenues. In Mississippi, bad debt averaged 15 percent compared to net patient revenues, and 14 percent in Northeast Mississippi. “Mississippi has the highest amount of medical debt in the country according to the Urban Institute,” said Roy Mitchell, executive director of the Mississippi Health Advocacy Program. The damage to credit can hinder people from getting loans for cars, homes and education, which in turn impacts their ability to thrive economically.  “The repercussions are significant,” for individuals, families and their communities, said Susan Sherry of Community Catalyst, a national advocacy organization.

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