Public hospital

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A public hospital is a hospital which is owned by a government and receives government funding. This type of hospital provides medical care free of charge, the cost of which is covered by the funding the hospital receives. Most hospitals world wide are public. In the US, two thirds of all urban hospitals are non-profit. The remaining third is split between for-profit and public. The urban public hospitals are often associated with medical schools. (Horwitz, 2005)

In the U.S., public hospitals receive significant funding from local, state, and/or federal governments. In addition, they may charge Medicaid, Medicare, and private insurers for the care of patients. Poor uninsured patients receive their care for free. Public hospitals, especially in urban areas, have a high concentration of uncompensated care and graduate medical education as compared to all other American hospitals. Public hospitals in America are closing at a much faster rate than hospitals overall. The number of public hospitals in major suburbs declined 27% (134 to 98) from 1996 to 2002. It is thought that the increase in uninsured has drained public hospitals to near bankruptcy.[1] Non-profit rural hospitals were disproportionately represented with high numbers of patients with uncompensated care. Public and non-profit rural hospitals form a large part of the health care safety net for the uninsured and poor underinsured in the U.S.[2]

For-profit hospitals were more likely to provide profitable medical services and less likely to provide medical services that were relatively unprofitable. Government or public hospitals were more likely to offer relatively unprofitable medical services. Not-for-profit hospitals often fell in the middle between public and for-profit hospitals in the types of medical services they provided. For-profit hospitals were quicker to respond to changes in profitability of medical services than the other two types of hospitals.[3]


  1. Higgins, M. (August 17, 2005). "Public hospitals decline swiftly". The Washington Times. Retrieved 2007-05-14.
  2. Fisherman L (1997). "What Types Of Hospitals Form The Safety Net? -- Despite public financial support, safety-net hospitals are in a worse financial position than other hospitals are" (PDF). Health Affairs. 16 (4). Retrieved 2007-05-14. Unknown parameter |month= ignored (help)
  3. Horwitz J.R. (2005). "Making Profits And Providing Care: Comparing Nonprofit, For-Profit, And Government Hospitals" (Abstract). Health Affairs. 24 (3): 790–801. doi:10.1377/hlthaff.24.3.790. Retrieved 2007-05-14.

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