Ivanova/Johnson – Hospital Charity Care Storyboards

2014-02-28 16.00.16

The bar chart shows the change from 2008 to 2010 in hospitals’ financial aid distributions.

With a scatter plot, we try to show that there’s no correlation between how much funding a hospital gets and how much financial aid it gives out.

2014-02-28 16.00.03



A proposed title or headline

Not so charitable

A story slug — up to three words that capture the essence of your story

Charity care

A list of the story’s key elements

1. Hospitals are required by law to accept patients regardless of the patient’s ability to pay. In New York State, a fund called the Indigent Care Pool exists to cover the costs of treating patients who can’t pay for their care.

2. Despite receiving funds to care for indigent patients, at least 11 hospitals, including five in and around New York City, did not approve any applications for charity care.

3. These hospitals are in some of the wealthiest parts of the city.

 A news hook, or explanation of why this story matters now

With Obamacare and Medicare cuts in the news, health care costs–not just how we pay for care–are once again in the public discussion. New York State, despite its reputation for pricey health care, has a program in place called the Indigent Care Fund, which gives money to hospital throughout the state that have a lot of poor or uninsured (read:unprofitable) patients. But many hospitals don’t treat indigent patients, though they receive government funds for their care. Data collected by the Community Service Society shows that 11 hospitals in the state that get funding for charity care offer none, or little. Conversely, public hospitals that treat many indigent patients often get far less funding than private hospitals who approve fewer charity-care applications. The Brooklyn hospitals that have closed in the last five years were all significant providers of charity care. They haven’t been replaced by comparable medical providers.

A description of and link to the data

  • A 2012 report from the nonprofit Community Service Society describes the 201 hospitals in New York that provide charity care and compares it to the number of applications they approved (report, and report summary.)

  • A list of hospitals open, closed, and close to closing in New York City as of 2014 (compiled by Irina Ivanova and Victoria Johnson from a mayoral speech on 2/20


  • A look into the average and median costs for over 1,400 different kinds of procedures in New York State (including NYC) hospitals from 2009-2011.



  • Elisabeth Benjamin, Vice President, Health Initiatives/Community Service Society of NY. (212) 614-5461; ebenjamin@cssny.org. We’ve spoken with EB about the 2008 data, which concluded that there was no oversight of hospitals distributing financial aid. She pointed us to another researcher at CSS who did the bulk of the report and we’re getting in touch with her for help reading the 2010 data.

  • Robin Gelburd, president, FAIR Health. 212-370-0704

  • Keith Smith, surgeon who runs a cash-based, transparently priced practice in Tulsa, OK.  KSmith@surgerycenterok.com; 405-627-0274.

  • (This one’s on hold for now since we’re unsure if, or whether, they’ll figure in the story. CityMD, spokesperson: Tanyelle Broschart 917 622 3226; tbroschart@citymd.net)