Wyoming Medical Center Busts Budget For Charity Care, Bad Debt
The Wyoming Medical Center wrote off $3.7 million more of uncompensated care than it planned for the past fiscal year, its chief financial officer said Tuesday.
"What we're experiencing is individuals who aren't able to carry health insurance or individuals who are what we called underinsured," Yvonne Wigington said at the monthly meeting of the board of trustees of the Memorial Hospital Board of Natrona County.
"Maybe they don't have enough insurance for a catastrophic event or they have very high deductible," Wigington said. "And we are seeing individuals who don't have insurance related to unemployment."
The hospital wrote off $57 million compared to the $53.3 million it budgeted for the fiscal year that ended June 30, Yvonne Wigington said.
Uncompensated care is the total of charity care it is required to offer those who cannot afford to pay, and bad debt which happens when patients who may be able to pay do not.
Since December, the amount of uncompensated care as a percentage of gross patient revenues has risen from 8 percent to 13 percent, or $3.6 million to $5.9 million, Wigington said.
The percentage of people with bad debt, and the amount the hospital writes off for them, has risen steadily, too.
In December there were 278 applications for charity care for $2.2 million compared to 690 people with $1.4 million in the bad debt category.
In June, there were 225 applications for charity care for $2.1 million compared to 688 people with $3.9 million in the bad debt category.
The hospital has been drastically cutting costs with the goal of reducing operating expenses by 10 percent for a goal of $10.7 million.
In early June, it announced the layoffs of 58 staff, or 9 percent of its workforce.
However, the WMC rehired 10 people in July.
The nonprofit Wyoming Medical Center Inc., was formed in 1986.
Until then, it was known as the Memorial Hospital of Natrona County, which was owned and operated by Natrona County. After the creation of the WMC, the county continued to own the physical plant of the hospital, which is mostly in the 1200 blocks of East Second and Third streets. The WMC leases the property from the county to do health care. The WMC’s rent, in effect, is to maintain the value of the physical plant and provide care for the indigent.
A five-member board of trustees — called the Memorial Hospital of Natrona County — oversees the WMC’s lease of the county’s property.