Baptist Health South Florida is a Miami-Dade success story.
Founded with a single hospital on Kendall Drive in 1960, it has grown into the region’s dominant healthcare system. Its seven hospitals and dozens of clinics from Coral Springs to the Upper Keys serve thousands daily and employ more people than any other local business, consistently ranking among the area’s best in customer satisfaction and quality of care.
Baptist Health is also raking in the money. The healthcare giant earned a net income of $344 million in 2014 and has amassed financial reserves of about $3 billion. It charges some of the highest rates on average among Miami-Dade hospitals, according to state data, and pays its top executives and star physicians million-dollar salaries.
And each year Baptist Health benefits from its status as a not-for-profit corporation exempted from paying income, property and sales taxes — a perk valued at about $150 million in 2014.
In return, Baptist Health — like all nonprofit hospitals — is required by the Internal Revenue Service to offer extra programs called “community benefits” to promote health. Most often, that has meant providing free or reduced-price healthcare for the uninsured and for those with Medicaid.
Last year, Baptist Health’s community benefits totaled $317 million, according to CEO Brian Keeley.
“We give more than anybody in town,” he said.
But while Baptist Health gives generously to free clinics and other healthcare efforts, its vast network is unavailable to many low- and middle-income South Florida residents who buy plans on the Affordable Care Act’s insurance exchange, known as Obamacare, and to those who are on Medicaid.