New Financial Analysis of Rural Health Center Sustainability

Capital Link, in collaboration with Health Alliance of Northern California, prepared an analysis of key financial and operational indicators for rural community health centers in a 10-county region of Northeastern California. Some of the key findings of the report include:

  • Health centers in the region experienced growth in the Medi-Cal patient population, increasing from 27% of total patients in 2011 to 38% in 2014. This shift is financially significant, however the region has a relatively smaller Medi-Cal population compared to other more urban areas in the state (CA FQHCs overall had an average of 56% Medi-Cal), which puts these health centers at a comparative financial disadvantage.
  • The median payer mix for health centers in the region also differs from statewide averages in terms of higher Medicare and privately insured patient populations (Medicare made up 19% of patients for Rural health centers v.s. 5% CA FQHCs overall). Medicare patients represent an older demographic, which is typically a more clinically complex and expensive population to manage.
  • Health centers in the region experienced a recent improvement in patient growth of 4.3% in 2014, exceeding even the median growth rate for their statewide peers (3.6%).
  • In 2014, the median operating margin for the group of rural health centers in Northern California was 1.0%, or just above a break even performance level (as compared to 2.8% for peers in CA).

View the full report on the Resources page.

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