Background: The large number of medically indigent patients in the United States is a major concern to policymakers and may be due to recent increases in the number of uninsured people. The purpose of this study was to identify the factors that affect the amount of unpaid hospital charges for services provided to pregnant women. Methods: Individual and hospital data were collected on a representative set of 235 pregnancy and childbirth patients with unpaid hospital charges from 28 hospitals in the state of Indiana. Results: Most of these patients did not have insurance coverage (63.8%), yet the majority were employed in the public or private sector (72.3%). Over half (55.5%) of the total uncompensated care amount for this group was from the $1000 to 2499 debt category. The median charge for these patients was $1468, of which the typical hospital was able to collect only 25.5%. Conclusions: The findings support the belief that any national effort to expand the availability of health insurance coverage to women through increased employment will not totally eliminate the uncompensated care problem. The findings also indicate that rural hospitals face the uncompensated care problem mainly because a significant portion of rural patients are without adequate health insurance coverage.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health