Hospitals Spend Little on Health of Community

Tax-exempt hospitals spend only a very small fraction of their operating expenses on improving community health, researchers found.

In 2009, of the mean 7.5% of operating expenses set aside for community benefits by tax-exempt hospitals, an average of 5% of that very small slice was used to improve health in the community, according to Gary Young, PhD, of Northeastern University in Boston, and colleagues.

The majority of fiscal community benefit resources -- 85% -- were used for charity care and other care-related services, while the remaining 10% was used for education, research, and community group contributions, they wrote in the April 18 New England Journal of Medicine.

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