What are the worst-case scenarios for hospitals?
More than half the states have closed some or all hospitals as part of efforts to slash spending and cut down on medical waste.
But they’ve all been in the middle of a medical crisis, and some are already facing financial crisis, according to the National Association of State Hospitals.
Hospitals that were already struggling to pay bills and manage the growing number of patients have also been forced to close.
The state of Colorado has closed more than 200 hospitals and is struggling to find enough money to operate them, while the state of Kentucky closed down more than half its hospitals last year, according the Kentucky Herald-Leader.
At the same time, at least 15 other states have shut down hospitals that are too big to open, said Dr. Jeffrey B. Brown, chief executive officer of the National Health Care Association.
The National Association says about half of the state’s hospitals are operating at less than half capacity, and the number of closures is likely to grow.
That means the state is at risk of closing or reducing its number of hospitals in the next decade, Brown said.
“There is no clear solution to this crisis,” he said.
Brown said he expects the closure of a hospital would mean more deaths, but also greater economic loss.
The economic impact would be significant because the cost of caring for patients would increase because of reduced capacity, he said, because more people would be needing care.
Many states have also closed their hospitals to patients seeking treatment for medical conditions.
“The medical community is in a state of crisis,” said Daniel P. Burt, president of the national Association of Health System Directors.
“It is becoming very clear that the medical care system is broken and needs urgent attention.”
Some hospitals have had to turn away patients because they can’t pay bills.
A California health care system has closed several hospitals and shuttered at least five others, including the largest in the state.
Health care providers have been scrambling to pay for the cost as the number and severity of illnesses and deaths in hospitals have risen.
A state of emergency declared by California governor Gavin Newsom last year had forced hospitals to close in some places, including hospitals in Sacramento, Orange and San Diego.
The number of visits to hospitals rose to nearly 4 million in 2015 from about 1.5 million a decade earlier.
Hospices and other health care providers are increasingly trying to reduce costs and increase efficiency by shutting down or cutting services.
Some hospitals are now operating on short-term leases, or have begun operating on the same day as a new patient arrives.
Those leases also may not last, said Tom Riggs, a senior vice president at Avalere Health, a consulting firm.
Some health care systems have also had to take some of their operations off-line and use technology to deliver care to patients in hospitals.
That may be more expensive than the traditional way of delivering care, but it can help patients who are waiting longer for treatment.
The trend of hospitals shutting down has also been driven by the aging population, who have had little access to medical care in the past, said Jennifer Loughlin, a health care economist at the University of Pennsylvania.
The nation’s hospitals face growing pressure from Medicare and Medicaid to increase the number who receive care.
More than 10 million people are expected to reach the age of 65 in 2060, according U.S. Census Bureau projections.