Uninsured patients lead to $1 million loss in December for Jackson Health System

 

dchang@MiamiHerald.com

A surge of uninsured patients in December has led to a nearly $1 million loss for Jackson Health System, according to the latest financial report on Miami-Dade’s public hospital network.

While Jackson officials reported more than 6,090 patient admissions at the system’s three hospitals for the last month of 2013 — exceeding the budgeted number of 5,922, and the prior year’s December total of 5,926 — the number included many uninsured or self-paying patients.

At Jackson Memorial, the main campus in Miami, about 17 percent of admitted patients in December were uninsured, compared to 13.3 percent in December 2012.

At Jackson South, about 19.6 percent of patients were self-pay, exceeding the December 2012 rate of nearly 14 percent.

Only Jackson North, where nearly 11 percent of patients admitted in December were uninsured, did the rate of self-pay patients fall below the prior year’s rate, which was 14.6 percent.

In a memo to the Public Health Trust that runs Jackson, Chief Executive Carlos Migoya said that despite the December loss of $963,000, the hospital system remains ahead of budget for the financial year ending Sept. 30 by about $600,000.

He said the increase in uninsured patients has been taking place for “a few months.”

“A review of our financial assessment processes found no substantial errors,” Migoya wrote in the memo. “This appears to be an actual increase in the number of patients who are uninsured and do not qualify for assistance programs, rather than a flaw in our screening and assistance process.’’

It is unclear how many of Jackson’s patients who were uninsured in December may qualify for subsidized private health plans sold on the Affordable Care Act’s insurance exchanges, or how many of those patients will qualify for Medicaid, the state-federal health program for the poor and disabled.

Migoya reported that federally-funded navigators, who provide in-person counseling to consumers applying for coverage through the exchanges, have helped more than 80 people enroll.

Jackson also has developed partnerships with managed-care companies and private-practice physicians, and launched a marketing campaign to attract more insured patients, Migoya said.

Miami-Dade voters in November approved an $830 million bond to be repaid with property taxes to finance upgrades for Jackson over the next 10 years, including new buildings and medical equipment, renovated patient rooms, and other improvements — all in an effort to attract more insured patients and position Jackson to better compete against private and nonprofit hospitals for those consumers.

The Public Health Trust meets at 9 a.m. Wednesday in the West Wing board room of Jackson Memorial.

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