It is true that both non-for profit and for-profit hospitals provide charitable services. It is my opinion, that non-for-profits provide more charitable healthcare services than for-profits. I believe this is so for two reasons the first is that the very essence of a for-profit hospital is to make a profit. Being that charitable services as a definition is to provide services to poor and low-income individuals this would mean that providing too many of these services would in turn not be very profitable for a for-profit hospital.
I am not absolutely sure if these regulations have changed, however, my second reason is that non-for-profit hospitals are required to provide a certain amount of charitable services. For example, a few years ago there was a non-for-profit catholic hospital, that before it was brought as an extension to a for profit hospital, was required to provide a certain percentage of their service to low-income/poor individuals in order to receive special funding from agencies that advocated for more healthcare access for these individuals. Therefore if you take into consideration the cost of care and the amount of individuals who cannot afford to pay, it is more likely from a budgeting perspective that for-profits are going to limit these charitable services as opposed to non-for-profits who have to meet certain requirements in order to maintain funding.
Non charitable or not for profit I believe provides more charitable health care services. The primary goal of nonprofit organization (NPO) is to serve the public rather than seeking ownership, and making profit. “ For example, Community Benefit Expenditures In Maryland Community benefit spending grew from almost $646 million in 2005 to just over $800 million in 2007. Exhibit 1 shows the types of community benefit spending as a percentage of hospitals' total expenses, net revenues (total revenues less expenses), and total community benefit expenditures. Aggregate community benefit expenditures reported by Maryland's hospitals over three years accounted for 7.2 percent of operating expenses and are much larger (163 percent) than their net revenues. Charity care and health professions education each account for about a third of the total community benefit spending. The reported charity care spending involves the costs of hospital services for patients who qualify under hospitals' charity care policies (not bad debt). Health professions education spending is primarily associated with graduate medical education, although many hospitals have expenditures for students from nursing and other health professions.10
Mission-driven health care services accounted for about 20 percent of community benefit expenditures. By definition, this category includes services that
(1) lose money,
(2) are offered as a direct result of the hospital's mission, and
(3) would not be available to the community if not provided by the hospital.
Such services may generate some revenue but lose money because they are offered for nominal charges or are provided to patients with limited ability to pay and are not covered by payments for hospital services, because they occur outside the hospital or involve physician services. (As does Medicare, Maryland distinguishes between hospital services, which are covered by the payment rates set by the state, and physician services, which are not.) Mission-driven services listed on some hospitals' reports include cardiac rehabilitation; hospice; home care services; outpatient mental health treatment programs; and various other programs targeted to seniors, immigrants, women, adolescents, substance abusers, and the homeless.
Charitable Expectations Of Nonprofit Hospitals: Lessons From Maryland Gray, Bradford H; Schlesinger, Mark. Health Affairs, suppl. WEB EXCLUSIVES: ONLINE ARTICLES FROM VOL. 28, NO. 5; Chevy Chase28.5 (2009): W809-W821.