Just in case some of you were worried about the “not for profit” St. Anthony hospital running out of money after announcing their new $53,000,000 expansion, relax.  They just announced the building of a new $30,000,000 hospital complex in nearby Mustang, Oklahoma.  They’ve been awfully busy “not making a profit,” it seems.

What exactly does “not for profit” mean?  It means that the entity doesn’t pay tax, that’s what it means.  I’ve written before that desperate for red ink to maintain the fiction of their “not for profit” status, many of these hospitals rely on fictionally high bills, such that the portion they don’t collect can be added to their “losses.”   They then, of course, get the  ”uncompensated care” rebates to the extent that they claimed these fictitious losses!  

There is nothing particularly noble about a business whose tax status is “not for profit.”  The one thing, it seems that these “not for profit” hospitals seem to be very good at is making money….and not paying tax on it.  

Where did St. Anthony get $53,000,000 for their expansion?  Where did they get $30,000,000 for their new hospital in Mustang?  The same place all of these giant hospital systems get their dough:  outrageously inflated bills, the primary source of personal bankruptcies in this country.   I’ll bet the countless people who have declared bankruptcy over their hospital bills didn’t feel like these outfits were trying to keep from making a profit.

But the hospital defenders say,”…we have to see anyone that comes into our emergency departments…we have to take all patients regardless of their ability to pay.”  Wow.  Seems like they’re just barely getting by, doesn’t it?  New construction, sponsorship of sports franchises, endless ad campaigns, hostile takeovers of physician practices and rural hospitals…seems like they’re doing ok to me.  Even if some of this construction is covered with bond issues, they intend to collect these amounts to retire these bonds at some point.  

Try to remember that these same hospitals have broken family’s financial backs to acquire this outrageous wealth, all the while poor-mouthing it to the communities they occupy, even touting and quantifying their “community benefit.”  

Look at our prices online.  Look at your recent hospital bill if you have one and compare.  Remember that we are making a profit at our prices.  Remember, also that our prices are bundled and include the surgeon, facility and anesthesia fees.  As I told a group recently, we are actually acting more like a not for profit facility than those non-tax-paying hospitals that claim this status.  

G. Keith Smith, M.D.