Report Reveals What Obamacare Does To Hospital Bills

Every time new information comes out, it looks more and more like the Affordable Care Act, or “Obamacare,” is going to be a complete disaster — for its Republican opponents. For the rest of America, the law appears to be an unbridled success.

A new report in Forbes, by Bruce Japsen, who has covered healthcare and healthcare policies for over 20 years, says that as the law begins to help more and more people, more and more of its benefits are being seen. The latest discovery about Obamacare is that unpaid hospital bills have been drastically declining, in both number and cost.

Japsen reports that Steve Filton, CEO of Universal Health Services (UHS), says that uncompensated care in the company’s hospitals has been on the decline for six quarters. A press release issued by UHS on July 30 shows that the company’s cost for “doubtful accounts” — those which they do not expect will be paid in full — declined some 17 percent over the first six months of 2015, compared to the same time period in 2014. Filton says that in 2015, UHS acute care hospitals have seen a “decrease in the aggregate of charity care, uninsured discounts and provision of doubtful accounts as a percentage of gross charges.”

Filton reveals something else that everybody except Republicans knows: not only do more people have insurance, but low income people who live in states that have accepted Medicaid expansion are now able to get the care they need. UHC operates acute care hospitals in six states, and the District of Columbia. Four of those states — Florida, Oklahoma, South Carolina, and Texas — have not yet accepted Medicaid expansion. Washington, D.C., California, and Nevada, the other states where UHC hospitals are located, are participating in expanded Medicaid under Obamacare. Filton says:

“We assume that the growth in our Medicaid patient base and utilization is related at least in large part to Medicaid expansion. We see it quite clearly most dramatically in those states, Nevada, California, the District of Columbia that have participated in Medicaid expansion.”

Several other private hospital corporations will be announcing their earnings this coming week, and the news from them is also expected to be good. The ACA, which was supposed to destroy health care in the United States, has been giving a boost to health care stocks for months.  When the Supreme Court issued its ruling on Obamacare subsidies in June, hospital and other stocks surged on the news, and investors celebrated, along with those whose health insurance subsidies were saved by the decision.

Remember when Republicans tried to repeal Obamacare for the first time? The bill was called “Repealing the Job-Killing Health Care Law Act.” Sorry, GOP. According to another report in Forbes, Obamacare added almost a million jobs in health related fields through June 2014. While some economists argue strongly that the law has indeed hurt the jobs market, others argue just as strongly that it has helped. Then there’s the third school of thought, that the ACA has had little impact on jobs one way or the other.

Paul Hughes-Cromwick, from a non-partisan think tank, the Altarum Institute, says:

“If you look at basic job growth by year, you’d have to be an idiot to say the ACA has saved the labor market, and even more of an idiot to say the ACA has destroyed the labor market.”

Every time a new report comes out about the effects of the ACA, the news is overwhelmingly positive. So how are Republicans taking the good news? Another attempt to repeal Obamacare failed in the Senate just a week ago. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says that he is prepared to hold another vote “to bring an end to the nightmare of Obamacare.”

Senator McConnell, if Obamacare is a nightmare, it’s one that a lot of Americans; patients, investors, and health care companies, don’t want to wake up from.

Featured image via Will O’Neill/Flickr