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J Health Care Finance. 2013 Spring;39(3):59-70.

The role of non-operating income in community benefit provision by not-for-profit hospitals.

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Division of Health Services Management and Policy, College of Public Health, The Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio, USA.


Not-for-profit hospitals are under increased public scrutiny for providing what some view as insufficient levels of community benefit compared to their tax-exempt benefits. One potential driver of community benefit is financial surplus, which arises from both patient care (operating) activities and non-patient care (non-operating) activities. This study addresses the effect of hospitals' non-operating income on not-for-profit hospitals' provision of community benefit. The study sample includes 217 unique not-for-profit, non-governmental, general, acute care hospitals in California between 1997 and 2010 that filed annual reports with the California Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development (OSHPD). We model the effect of hospitals' operating and non-operating incomes on hospitals' community benefit, controlling for observable hospital characteristics such as scale and system membership, local competition, time trends, and hospital fixed effects. Our results indicate that non-operating income has no effect on levels of community benefit provided by not-for-profit hospitals. This finding suggests that not-for-profit hospitals budget for uncompensated care at levels that are prioritized over other potential investments if non-operating income falls, but remain fixed if non-operating income rises.

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