Hospitals across the nation delivered $45.9 billion in uncompensated care during 2012, according to an annual study of the American Hospital Association.

The AHA defines uncompensated care as the sum of a hospital’s bad debt and the charity care given. It does not include other ways in which hospitals provide financial assistance to patients or other unfunded costs such as underpayments from Medicare and Medicaid.

The 2012 figures come from 5,000 hospitals and represent 6.1 percent of total expenses, compared with $41.1 billion in uncompensated care (5.9 percent of expenses) from 4,973 hospitals in 2011.

The dollar amount of uncompensated care has doubled since 2002. Since 1980, the percentage of total expenses has ranged from 5.1 to 6.4 percent.

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