December 30, 2014

Another Year of Tuesday's Numbers


Tuesday is the day my local paper, the Syracuse Post-Standard, publishes the weekly business section. Regular readers know that, in addition to special features, tips from stock experts, budgeting advice and the like, we get the judgment and bankruptcy listings. Those include filings related to health care.


The total damage for 2014: $27,988,462.  That's a 'savings' of $1,477,797 compared to 2013’s total of $29,466,259. 

Below are this year’s totals for debts owed to a hospital, nursing home, physician or physician group, medical supplier, etc. The paper publishes only those accounts of at least $5,000:
  • Judgments totaled $25,660,775, which is $18,963 less than last year
  • Satisfied judgments totaled $841,480, significantly down ($1,605,683) from last year
  • Bankruptcies totaled $1,486,207, which is up $110,849 over last year’s total.

And here are the totals for each of the four Syracuse hospitals in 2014 (I did not track the data this way in 2013):


  • Crouse had 440 filings, totaling $5,583,435
  • St Joe’s had 136 filings, totaling $2,821,469
  • SUNY Upstate had 760 filings, totaling $17,936,563
  • Community General (part of Upstate) had twelve, for $117,873.

Even though the total is a bit better than last year, it seems like we have a lot of work to do. Since I started keeping track of this, the total is a staggering $69,114,070, in just shy of two and a half years.  And who knows how much more is out there that doesn’t hit the $5,000 publication threshold? 

Last year, in my recap, I put these thoughts on the table:
   
And I continue to wonder what it will take for us to get out of the kind of mess that causes or allows this to happen. What’s broken here, the actual cost of health care? How people make health care choices? Our overall economy?  Will the Affordable Care Act, with millions more having some kind of insurance (through private carriers or government programs) make a difference?

I don’t know any more this year what’s broken than I did last year, and I can’t say with any confidence that anything has been fixed, either.  I am going to try and see if I can get an expert interested in this, though, in the hopes that at the very least we can better understand what’s behind the numbers, if not actually see some significant improvement.