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New Data Show Essential Hospitals’ Commitment to Mission Amid Resource Challenges


WASHINGTON—The nation’s essential hospitals—principal sources of care for millions of low-income and other vulnerable people—provided disproportionate levels of uncompensated care, charity care, and physician training in 2016, new data from America’s Essential Hospitals shows.

Representing just 325 of more than 5,500 hospitals nationally, the association’s members delivered 20 percent of all charity care and $5.5 billion in total uncompensated care in 2016, America’s Essential Hospitals reported today in its annual member profile, Essential Data: Our Hospitals, Our Patients.

Sustaining this high level of uncompensated care left essential hospitals with an average operating margin of 4 percent, about half that of other U.S. hospitals. The average essential hospital provides more than $70.7 million in uncompensated care annually, nine times that of other hospitals, the report shows.

“Our hospitals’ commitment to mission—ensuring every person can access care regardless of their financial status—places a heavy demand on their resources,” said association President and CEO Bruce Siegel, MD, MPH. “It’s absolutely vital that we, as a nation, similarly commit to supporting these hospitals and the vulnerable patients and communities they serve.”

Essential hospitals continued their historically strong contributions to developing the next generation of health care workers, the report shows. Association members trained an average of 223 physicians in 2016, compared with 76 at other hospitals, and they trained an average of 41 physicians above their federal funding cap, compared with eight at other hospitals.

Other 2016 highlights from Essential Data: Our Hospitals, Our Patients include:

  • The average essential hospital had more than 18,000 inpatient discharges and 458,000 emergency and non-emergency outpatient visits annually;
  • Racial and ethnic minorities made up 68 percent of member discharges;
  • Essential hospitals make care equity a priority: More than eight out of 10 association members offer linguistic services and nearly half have signed the national Equity 123 pledge to eliminate health care disparities;
  • Three-quarters of essential hospitals’ patients were uninsured or covered by Medicaid or Medicare, and commercial insurance covered only about one in four inpatient discharges and outpatient visits;
  • Essential hospitals served communities where 10.1 million people have limited access to healthy food, 25.3 million people live below the federal poverty line, 19.4 million are uninsured, and 350,000 are homeless;
  • The average essential hospital employed 2,944 people. Together, the association’s members accounted for 656,474 jobs nationwide and contributed to $114.8 billion in economic activity; and
  • The association’s members accounted for more than a third of the nation’s level I trauma centers and nearly 40 percent of burn care beds.

“Essential hospitals are true anchors of the community,” Siegel said. “Millions of Americans depend on our members for good health, jobs, and lifesaving services.”

Essential Data: Our Hospitals, Our Patients is available at

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About America’s Essential Hospitals
America’s Essential Hospitals is the leading champion for hospitals and health systems dedicated to high-quality care for all, including the most vulnerable. We support our more than 325 members with advocacy, policy development, research, and education. Communities depend on essential hospitals to provide specialized, lifesaving services; train the health care workforce; advance public health and health equity; and coordinate care. Essential hospitals innovate and adapt to lead the way to more effective and efficient care. Learn more at

Carl Graziano


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