Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles has expanded its charity care programs for the poor, a move that will make it the most generous of the state's ten largest nonprofit hospitals, California Healthline reports.
Effective January 1, Cedars-Sinai broadened eligibility for free care to those earning up to 400 percent of the federal poverty level ($49,960 for an individual and $103,000 for a family of four) — up from 200 percent before the announcement — and for discounted care to those earning 600 percent of FPL. None of the other nine largest nonprofit hospitals (based on net patient revenue from the 2017-18 fiscal year) in the state offers free or discounted care to households earning more than 400 percent of FPL. Stanford Hospital, UCSF Medical Center, California Pacific Medical Center, and Sutter Medical Center – Sacramento all offer either discounted or free care to those earning up to 400 percent of FPL, while UC Davis Medical Center, UC San Diego Medical Center, Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center, and UC Irvine Medical Center offer free care for those earning up to 200 percent of FPL and discounted care for those earning between 200 percent and 400 percent.
According to the Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development, spending on charity care as a percentage of operating expenses by California's nonprofit hospitals has declined significantly since 2013. Cedars-Sinai, the third largest nonprofit hospital in the state, has spent a much smaller percentage of its operating expenses on charity care than others — just 0.19 percent in 2018, compared with a statewide average of 0.9 percent. The hospital told California Healthline that the 0.19 percent figure doesn't account for other charitable grants and programs or the large number of low-income patients with publicly funded health coverage that have lower reimbursement rates — programs and expenses that accounted for 16.5 percent of total expenses in fiscal year 2018.
Once known as "the hospital to the stars," Cedars-Sinai said it was changing its financial aid policy because it was treating more patients who are "underinsured" — enrolled in health insurance plans with high deductibles, co-payments, or other out-of-pocket costs. "More of our patients are having financial difficulties,” the hospital said in a statement, "so we want to help them."