What is an Essential Hospital?
Providers of Choice for All People, All Communities
Essential hospitals share a mission to care for all people, regardless of their financial means and insurance status. Three-quarters of essential hospitals’ patients are uninsured or have Medicaid or Medicare coverage. Marginalized and underrepresented populations and communities with systemic and structural barriers to care rely on essential hospitals for health and wellness.
Along with their safety net mission, essential hospitals provide specialized, lifesaving services, such as level I trauma and neonatal intensive care; train many physicians, nurses, and other health care professionals; coordinate care across large ambulatory networks; meet public health and crisis response needs; and advance health equity.
Download the flyer to the right for a summary of how essential hospitals build a healthy country for all. Also, take a deep dive into data about our hospitals and the people and communities they serve with our annual member characteristics report, Essential Data: Our Hospitals, Our Patients.
Why We Must Formally Recognize Essential Hospitals
To safeguard access to care, improve health equity, and protect communities in times of greatest need, Congress must statutorily designate essential hospitals for targeted support. Essential hospital face challenges unique to their mission. Our members represent about 5 percent of all U.S. hospitals but provide more than a quarter of the nation’s charity care. Essential hospitals, on average, provide seven times as much uncompensated care as other hospitals. due to their small share of commercially insured patients and historically underfunded mission.
We have ample precedent for formally designating classes of hospitals to stabilize and protect providers vital to the larger health care ecosystem. Examples include critical access hospitals and sole community hospitals. Today, essential hospitals lack similar and crucial protections.
Learn more about essential hospital designation »