Hospitals’ community benefit investment increases despite financial headwinds

Despite the financial havoc wrought by the COVID-19 pandemic, including sharply rising costs and stagnant revenue, Oregon hospitals’ total community benefit spending grew by $225 million in 2021 to $1.97 billion, a 12.9% increase over 2020 and the largest percentage increase since 2016.

The fiscal year 2021 community benefit data, recently released by Apprise Health Insights, shows that this growth in community investments continues a trend. Since 2016, hospitals have increased spending by more than 48%, providing care for which they are not reimbursed and supporting their communities to improve health and well-being.

“We are proud of the many ways in which Oregon’s hospitals support the health and well-being of their communities,” said Becky Hultberg, OAHHS president and CEO. “Community benefit is just one way that hospitals make a difference in people’s lives, and it is help that is needed now more than ever.”

Other key findings include:

  • Oregon’s hospitals are dedicated to improving the health and well-being of the communities they serve. In 2021, they spent $426 million on programs to address the root causes of poverty and homelessness, prevent child abuse and support parents, promote healthy eating and physical activity, among others.
  • In recent years charity care has been growing steadily despite Oregon having one of the highest percentages of residents with health insurance coverage at 95%. In 2021, hospitals provided $292 million in charity care, a 4.7% increase over 2020.
  • In 2021, hospitals’ unreimbursed Medicaid costs–nearly $1 billion–made up 51% of their total community benefit spending. The state’s insurance program, the Oregon Health Plan, does not cover the full cost of caring for patients.

To view the 2023 community benefit report, click here.