What Counts as Community Benefit

Definition of Community Benefit

Community benefits are programs or activities that provide treatment and/or promote health and healing as a response to identified community needs. They are not provided for marketing purposes.

Community Benefit Includes:

  • Financial Assistance
  • Government-sponsored means-tested programs  — unpaid costs of public programs
  • Other Community Benefit Services
    • Community Health Improvement Services
    • Health Professions Education
    • Subsidized Health Services
    • Research
    • Cash and In-Kind Contributions
    • Community-Building Activities
    • Community Benefit Operations

Principles for Determining What Programs and Activities are Community Benefit

Report costs as community benefit if the program addresses an identified community need and meets at least one of the following criteria:

  • Improves access to health care services.
  • Enhances health of the community.
  • Advances medical or health knowledge.
  • Relieves or reduce the burden of government or other community efforts.

Financial assistance does not include bad debt, contractual allowance or quick pay discounts.

Do not report costs as community benefit if the program is:

  • Provided for marketing purposes
  • Restricted to hospital employees and physicians only
  • Required of all health care providers by rules or standards
  • Questionable as to whether it should be reported
  • Unrelated to health or the mission of the organization

The value of time provided by volunteers or employees on their own time should not be counted as a community benefit expense.


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What Counts Resources

The following tools referenced in CHA's A Guide for Planning and Reporting Community Benefit can be used to determine what counts and does not count as community benefit..

The following resources address reporting questions that have been raised around specific issues.

What Counts Email Hotline

Do you have a question about whether a program should count as community benefit?

The What Counts Q& A Index and Community Benefit Categories and Definitions are two resources that can help you determine whether to report a program or activity as community benefit. If you still have questions after reviewing these resources submit them to CHA using the What Counts Email Hotline Submission Form.