From September 1997 through January 2003, researchers at Brandeis University, Heller School for Social Policy and Management, Cambridge, Mass., studied how a change in ownership from nonprofit to for-profit status ("conversion") affected hospitals' provision of community benefits, financial performance and relationships with other health care providers.
The project included a nationwide study of all 709 hospital conversions between 1990 and 2001 as well as in-depth case studies of eight hospitals.
- Uncompensated care levels dropped when a nonprofit hospital converted to for-profit ownership.
- The largest decrease in uncompensated care occurred when nonprofit hospitals converted to for-profit chain-owned facilities.
- According to case-study respondents, conversion affected the hospital's collaborative and competitive behavior toward other providers and organizations in the community.
- Conversion foundations, formed from the sale of nonprofit hospitals, sometimes maintained or exceeded the nonprofit's financial contribution, but they did not substitute for the hospital's role as a community partner.
- Drawing conclusions about whether hospital conversions are a good or bad policy is difficult because conversion affects each community differently.
The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) provided $926,085 to support this project between September 1997 and January 2003.