Community Benefit

2011 Financial Highlights

  • Salaries and benefits for employees who provide our services: $4 billion
  • Cost of services provided to patients who couldn't afford to pay for the care they received (charity care): $140 million
  • Other patient service charges for which we did not receive payment (bad debt): $375 million
  • Capital invested to build and improve facilities and enhance patient care: $898 million

Meeting the health care needs of our communities is the cornerstone of Sutter Health's not-for-profit mission. This includes directly serving those who cannot 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 cannot afford to pay and who meet certain other criteria. The following is a summary of Sutter Health's estimated costs of providing services to the poor and broader community.

Community Benefit

(Dollars in millions)

Services for the poor and underserved



Traditional charity care


$ 140

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


$ 756


Sutter Health and many other health care systems around the country 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 persons
  • 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 for the poor and underserved includes services provided to persons who cannot afford health care because of inadequate resources and/or are uninsured or underinsured, as well as the unpaid costs of public programs treating Medi-Cal and indigent beneficiaries. Costs are computed based on a relationship of costs to charges. Services for the poor and underserved also include the cost of other services for indigent populations, and cash donations on behalf of the poor and needy.

Benefits for the broader community include costs of providing the following services: health screenings and other health-related services, training for health professionals, educating the community with various seminars and classes, the cost of performing medical research, and the costs associated with providing free clinics and community services. Benefits for the broader community also include contributions Sutter Health makes to community agencies to fund charitable activities.