LETTER TO THE EDITOR: For-profit hospitals are more charitable

Oftentimes, I see non-profit healthcare organizations congratulated for “caring” more for patients than their for-profit counterparts. Non-profit hospitals are exempted from paying taxes because they presumably spend that money on charitable services.

Well, a new report commissioned by North Carolina’s State Treasurer should dispel non-profits’ saintly status.

According to the report, many non-profit healthcare organizations have seen profits soar, while the level of charity care they provide varies widely.

The state’s largest non-profit hospital systems received more than $1.8 billion in annual tax breaks, but for most of them the value of their charity care was less than 60% of their tax write-downs.

What’s more, the same report found that for-profit hospitals spent more on charity care than the non-profits. This should poke a big hole in the inflated esteem tax-exempt hospitals routinely receive.

Our elected officials need to take a long hard look at why these non-profit hospitals are getting so much benefit for so little work. And we should commend the for-profits for living up to the standard of caring for others we expect in the healthcare profession while contributing to their communities through local and state taxes.

Lanier Riddick