Community Benefit

Our 2013 financial highlights:

  • Total vital medical care and supportive services to people in need and the broader community: $901 million
  • Cost of services provided to patients who couldn’t afford to pay for the care they received (charity care): $166 million

Meeting the health care needs of our communities is the cornerstone of Sutter Health’s not-for-profit mission. This includes directly serving people who can’t afford to pay for health care and supporting health-related programs and services that help those in financial need.

Traditional charity care covers health care services provided to patients who can’t afford to pay and who meet certain other criteria.

Here is a summary of Sutter Health’s estimated costs of providing services to people who are unable to pay, as well as to members of the broader community.

Community benefit

(Dollars in millions)

Services for the poor and underserved



Traditional charity care



Unpaid costs of public programs:






Other public programs



Other benefits for the poor and underserved



Total services for the poor and underserved



Benefits for the broader community



Nonbilled services



Education and research



Cash and in-kind donations



Other community benefits



Total benefits for the broader community



Total community benefit




Sutter Health and other health care systems nationwide subscribe to a common definition of community benefit. Community benefits are programs or activities that provide treatment or promote health and healing as a response to community needs.They are not provided primarily for marketing purposes.

In keeping with this description, community benefit:

  • generates a low or negative financial return
  • responds to the needs of special populations, such as those living in poverty and other disenfranchised people
  • supplies services or programs that, if discontinued for a purely financial reason, would increase costs to government or another tax-exempt organization
  • responds to public health needs
  • involves education or research that improves overall community health.

Services include any provided to people who can’t afford health care because their income is too low or because they have little or no medical insurance. Also included are the unpaid costs of public programs for Medi-Cal beneficiaries and others in need.

Costs are determined based on a relationship of costs to charges. Services for people who lack financial and medical resources include the cost of other services for poor populations and cash donations on behalf of those in need.

Benefits to the broader community include the costs of providing:

  • health screenings, free clinics and other community services
  • training for health professionals
  • seminars, classes and other public health education
  • medical research

Benefits for the broader community also include contributions Sutter Health makes to community agencies to fund charitable activities.