Spike in uninsured medical costs puts strain on UMC health system
The rising costs of medical care are putting a strain on both families and hospitals. UMC is the only public health system in Lubbock county, it's responsible for providing health services to everyone regardless of their ability to pay. That includes patients in a 300 square mile radius, 14% of the patients UMC sees are uninsured and when they can't pay the hospital system bears the cost.
"What we have to do long-term is look for ways to absorb that cost," said Eric Finley, UMC marketing director. "While still remaining profitable and true to the tax payers who fund us."
UMC administrators predict that the hospital system will pay about $84 million worth of services of unfunded care. UMC does receive about $23 million from Lubbock county tax payers, nowhere near enough to offset the overall cost. The portion of property taxes it receives makes up only 4% of the health systems overall budget.
During a county commissioner's court meeting, UMC president Mark Funderburk said the drastic spike in uninsured medical cost is due to high regulations, increasing cost of care, and insurance companies.
"So you have the cost of actually doing business in the hospital, you have insurance companies who rightfully so are pushing things to out patients," said Funderburk. "You have medicare that has set a goal of putting almost all of their payment at some type of financial risk in the next few years."
The hospital traditionally has focused on competing for insured patients, tax payer funds, and cutting costs, but administrators said going forward, they will have to find new and innovative ways to save the hospital money.