Cleveland Clinic released its latest community benefit report indicating the health system contributed $1.31 billion in benefit for its operations in Ohio, Nevada and Florida. This marks an increase from $1.18 billion in 2019.
Cleveland Clinic’s community benefit is a measure of its investment to the community through education, research, financial assistance and Medicaid shortfall, subsidized services, and community programs. Community benefit is just one measure of the health system’s commitment to its neighbors and neighborhoods.
“We remain committed to serving our patients and investing in our community in order to create the healthiest communities for everyone,” said Cleveland Clinic CEO and President Tom Mihaljevic, M.D. “In addition to the traditional contributions we make to our communities’ wellbeing, we undertook numerous special initiatives in 2020 to protect public health and lessen the impact of COVID-19.”
As a nonprofit health system, Cleveland Clinic is a community asset with no owners, investors or stockholders. Any and all extra funds from operations are invested back into the health system to support patient care, research, education and charitable efforts.
Community benefit data is calculated in accordance with IRS Form 990 reporting guidelines. The primary categories for assessing community benefit include:
Financial Assistance – $185.8 million
Cleveland Clinic’s financial assistance policy provides free or discounted care to patients with incomes up to 400% of the federal poverty level and covers both hospital care and employed physician services. Cleveland Clinic experienced an increase of 10% in financial assistance to patients unable to pay some or all of their bills. This reported financial assistance does not include “bad debt,” which is the amount of unpaid bills to the health system by patients who have the ability to pay. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Cleveland Clinic expanded its charity care policy to assist more patients experiencing financial hardships to ensure they had continued access to care.
Medicaid Shortfall – $547.0 million
The Medicaid program, which provides healthcare coverage for low-income families and individuals, is funded by state and federal governments. In many states, Medicaid payments have not been sufficient to cover the costs of treating Medicaid beneficiaries. Cleveland Clinic’s Medicaid shortfall remained consistent from 2019 ($553.8 million) to 2020 ($547.0 million). In Ohio, Cleveland Clinic is one of the largest Medicaid providers.
Subsidized Health Services – $34.4 million
Subsidized services are clinical services provided to meet the needs of the community despite creating a financial loss. Examples include pediatric programs, psychiatric/behavioral health services, obstetrics, chronic disease management and outpatient clinics. Subsidized services increased more than 38% from 2019 ($24.9 million) to 2020.
Community Health Improvement – $130.0 million
Community health improvement programs serve the vulnerable and at-risk populations, in addition to the broader community. These programs address documented health needs of the community and align with community health needs assessments, including free wellness initiatives, health screenings/education and enrollment assistance in government-funded health programs.
In 2020, Cleveland Clinic provided or contributed to community health improvement for a total of $130 million, including traditional activities and COVID-19 expenses.
- COVID-19 support:
- Clinical services, such as COVID-19 screenings and clinics
- Expenditures to prepare for patient surges
- Wellness initiatives for schools and community-based organizations
- Faith-based forums on education and access for community leaders
- Traditional activities:
- High-speed internet access to local community members
- Donations of food and personal protective equipment
- Community farmers’ markets, urban gardens and a mobile food pantry
- Strategies on decreasing opioid prescription use and overdose deaths; decreasing infant mortality
Education – $312.3 million
Education programs include accredited training for physicians, residents, nurses and allied health professionals who will care for both the local and broader community in the future. For 2020, Cleveland Clinic’s total expenses in support of education for health professions was $312.3 million, up from $306.0 million in 2019.
Research – $101.9 million
Research into diseases and cures is an investment in the long-term health of the community. Cleveland Clinic’s contribution for medical research increased to $101.9 million, up from $88.8 million in 2019.
Last year, COVID-19 highlighted the significance of research as a community benefit. Cleveland Clinic researchers developed the first risk-prediction model for healthcare providers to forecast a patient’s likelihood of testing positive for COVID-19, as well as their outcome from the disease.
“This community benefit report is one measure of our commitment to ensure better health for the patients and the neighborhoods we serve,” Dr. Mihaljevic said. Recent efforts include expanding a mobile pediatric school-based program, providing high-speed internet to neighborhoods where it did not exist and expanding the ASPIRE nurse scholar program. Dr. Mihaljevic added, “We will continue to look for opportunities and partnerships that improve the health and well-being of our neighbors and neighborhoods, including a significant focus on lead paint remediation and infant mortality efforts.”
Cleveland Clinic’s community benefit report is available online on its website.