Hospital System Makes Stand for Health Insurance

October 31, 2006 ( - Five hospitals in South Florida have announced they will give preferential status to vendors who provide health insurance to their employees.

The decision by the Baptist Health South Florida system is, in part, an effort to ease the burden for area hospitals that are stuck footing the bill for a high number of uninsured patients, the Miami Herald reported.

Baptist Health South Florida, which had to write off $363 million in charges for charity care and uncompensated services for fiscal 2005, already gives preferences to local suppliers, but plans to further direct that treatment to those that provide health insurance to employees – a determination that the board of trustees has not quite worked out yet, but is expected to approve at a Thursday night meeting.

All other qualifications being equal, vendors who provide insurance to their employees will be chosen over vendors who do not, and in some instances may be paid a higher price, said Jo Baxter, a spokesperson for Baptist Health’s chief executive Brian Keeley, to the newspaper.

A proposal was made to area hospitals by the president of the South Florida Hospital and Healthcare Association more than a decade ago. Linda Quick said hospitals were reluctant to sign on because they had deals with doctors’ offices, many of which did not cover their employees. The hospitals were unwilling to give perks to local firms when it did not require the same of the physicians with which it had relationships.

Similar grass roots-types of incentive programs to try and get employers to insure their workers have been adopted by a few other non-governmental bodies in the US, according to the Herald, but the move by Baptist Health stands as the first such attempt in South Florida.