Nonprofit healthcare plays critical role

American’s believe the ownership of health-care institutions, whether nonprofit or for-profit, matters, a new report says.

In “Why Nonprofits Matter in American Medicine,” published by the Aspen Institute, researchers from Yale University and the Urban Institute address the claim that consumers do not understand or care about the different types of healthcare ownership.

Americans believe that, while for-profits provide higher-quality care, nonprofits provide care in a fairer and more humane way, the study says.

Nonprofits are also less expensive and more trustworthy, survey respondents say, and are more generous with indigent patients, while for-profits are more responsive and efficient overall.

It appears that the public more highly values the attributes of nonprofits over for-profits, the study says, given that two to three times more survey respondents say the increase in for-profit healthcare is bad rather than good.

Similarly, more respondents say nonprofit hospitals and health plans are helpful to the communities they serve than are for-profits.

A review of other studies shows that the type of ownership does, in fact, affect medical care, the report says.

For example, for-profits are more aggressive in marking up prices, and react more quickly to changes in demand, while nonprofits receive fewer complaints and more often serve as incubators for cutting-edge services.

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