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Highlights

Before 1969, IRS required hospitals to provide charity care to qualify for tax-exempt status. Since then, however, IRS has not specifically required such care, as long as the hospital provides benefits to the community in other ways. Seeking a better understanding of the benefits provided by nonprofit hospitals, Congress requested that GAO examine whether nonprofit hospitals provide levels of uncompensated care and other community benefits that are different from other hospitals. This statement focuses on, by ownership group, hospitals' (1) provision of uncompensated care, which consists of charity care and bad debt, and (2) reporting of other community benefits. The hospital ownership groups were (nonfederal) government, nonprofit, and for-profit. To compare the three hospital ownership groups, GAO obtained 2003 data from five geographically diverse states with substantial representation of the three ownership groups in each state. GAO analyzed cost data from two perspectives--each hospital group's percentage of (1) total uncompensated care costs in a state and (2) patient operating expenses devoted to uncompensated care.

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