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Nonprofit hospitals thrive on profits

Hospitals in the Charlotte region are among the most profitable in the U.S. They have billions in investments and real estate. Experts say they should do more to lower patients’ rising costs.

By Ames Alexander, Karen Garloch & Joseph Neff

Nonprofit hospitals in the Charlotte region are respected community institutions. They save lives, heal the sick and provide good jobs.

At the same time, most of them are stockpiling a fortune.

Their profits have risen along with their prices. Top executives are paid millions as their hospitals expand, buy expensive technology and build aggressively.



DAY ONE - APRIL 21, 2012


DAY TWO - APRIL 22, 2012
Most N.C. hospitals are slim on charity care

Rachael Shehan has no health insurance and virtually no income. But when serious respiratory problems strike, her hospital has never provided financial help, she said.



DAY THREE - APRIL 23, 2012
Hospital suits force new pain on patients

Joyce Jones had no job and a bare-bones health insurance policy. A social worker at Carolinas Medical Center-Mercy told her the hospital had a fund to help patients like her. Jones thought the hospital was taking care of the cost. But soon after her two-week stay, she received a bill for $34,000. In 2006, the hospital sued her and put a lien on her small west Charlotte home.



DAY FOUR - APRIL 24, 2012
Hospitals’ clout in capital built with money, contacts

Last year, state Rep. Dale Folwell took aim at a substantial tax benefit for North Carolina’s nonprofit hospitals: their refund on sales taxes, which averages about $200 million yearly.



DAY FIVE - APRIL 25, 2012
Experts: hospitals need scrutiny

In Washington state, hospitals must provide free or discounted care to indigent patients – and report to the state how much they spend to provide that treatment. No such laws protect North Carolina’s patients.



UPDATE SEPTEMBER 24, 2012
Prices soar as hospitals dominate cancer market

Large nonprofit hospitals in North Carolina are dramatically inflating prices on chemotherapy drugs at a time when they are cornering more of the market on cancer care, an investigation by the Observer and The News & Observer of Raleigh has found.



UPDATE MONDAY, DECEMBER 17, 2012
As doctors flock to hospitals, bills spike for patients

North Carolina patients are likely to pay more for routine health care if their doctors are employed by a hospital, an investigation by the Observer and the News & Observer of Raleigh has found.