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St. Luke's Health System FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions

Click each question below for its answer:

Is St. Luke's not-for-profit?
Yes. St. Luke’s Health System and related subsidiary corporations are organized as not-for-profit corporations which also meet the tax exemption requirements of section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. As a not-for-profit organization, St. Luke’s is exempt from some taxes, but not all. To have this designation, St. Luke’s must meet several criteria, including reinvesting surplus funds in facilities and services to pursue the organization’s mission, vision and goals to improve the health of the people in the region.
What's the difference between a not-for-profit and for-profit?
A for-profit distributes profits to its owners and investors. Management and board members are typically part owners of the company. They determine the amount of profits that will be distributed to owners and investors and the amount that will be reinvested in the company.

A not-for-profit corporation, generally speaking, reinvests in its mission and its community. It has one use for its margin: investment in programs and services, often for those who otherwise would be unable to afford them or have nowhere else to turn. Since not-for-profits don’t have shareholders, St. Luke’s is able to invest in people, new technology, programs to improve health and new services to meet the health care needs of the people we serve.
What does St. Luke's do with the income it generates?
If revenues exceed expenses resulting in a financial surplus, 100 percent is retained and reinvested back into the organization to support our mission in the form of physical assets, programs and services for the communities we serve.
Why does St. Luke's need philanthropic support?
Since the first philanthropic gift to the organization in 1902, St. Luke’s has relied on philanthropic support to become a leader in health care. St. Luke’s continues to make significant investments in facilities, technology and medical services, in order to serve patients, including those patients who require financial assistance.

Facility replacement and enhancement projects are being implemented at St. Luke’s locations in carefully planned stages with the community’s long-term needs and well-being in mind. Communities throughout St. Luke’s service region benefit from an exceptionally designed health care system dedicated to both medical excellence and personalized care.

Providing a means for the members of the community to invest in an institution that will transform health care and support the needs of Idaho citizens for decades is essential to achieving St. Luke’s vision. With ongoing philanthropic support, St. Luke’s will create a strong, community-based health care system for the future and preserve our tradition of health care excellence for Idaho. Generous philanthropic support will ensure St. Luke’s Health System can advance its vision to transform health care within our region.
Why does St. Luke's advertise?
Though St. Luke’s health care services are available 24/7/365 to everyone, they are not necessarily needed on a daily basis by the vast majority of the community. Therefore, advertising is one way we can communicate about the many services St. Luke’s offers, and inform the public about the physicians who choose to practice at St. Luke’s facilities. Additionally, as a growing region, newcomers need to know about the health care services available to their family from St. Luke’s and how to access them.

St. Luke’s spends its advertising dollars responsibly, and we spend considerably less on marketing-related activities than the national average reported by the American Hospital Association. That national average is 2 percent of total operating expenses, while St. Luke’s marketing budget is only 0.38 percent of total operating expenses.
Why does St. Luke's continue to build facilities and buy property throughout the region?
As Idaho’s largest health care organization, St. Luke’s has a responsibility to keep pace with our region’s population growth as well as advancements in how health care is delivered. This commitment requires continued investment in facility expansions and new construction.

The way health care is delivered continues to evolve. New technology, a shift to more outpatient delivery options, medical advancements impacting patients’ length of stay and the importance of convenience for patients in choosing where they receive their care are all influencing the type, size, and configuration of St. Luke’s facilities. To meet patient needs, St. Luke’s must continue to adjust and invest appropriate resources in its facilities.

Every investment St. Luke’s makes in building renovations, expansions and new facilities is made following a thoughtful process and considerable analysis by its leadership team and the Health System’s community-based boards of directors.
How does St. Luke's determine which other health care organizations it partners with?
St. Luke’s wants to be available to provide care to those who wish to receive care from St. Luke’s and physicians associated with us. To that end, St. Luke’s has aligned with a number of health care organizations and providers in various communities throughout southwest Idaho. The most common of these relationships are with hospitals and physicians in smaller/rural markets. The criteria we consider include, but are not limited to:

  • Whether the entity provides care within St. Luke’s service region, which extends as far east as Rupert, as far west as La Grande, Ore., as far north as Grangeville and as far south as Elko, Nev.
  • Whether the individual community has invited St. Luke’s to evaluate a partnership, in which case St. Luke’s considers a number of factors, including the size of the organization, the size of the community served, the mission of the health care organization, scope of community needs, and alignment with St. Luke’s mission and vision.
St. Luke’s relationships with other organizations range from as basic as leveraging supply chain purchasing to more complex management and financial relationships with governmental and not-for-profit entities. It is important to note that through the relationships it develops, St. Luke’s does not require exclusivity from our owned or managed hospitals and will not interfere with any physician’s judgment.

St. Luke’s has a detailed due diligence process that aligns St. Luke’s capabilities with the other organization’s requests and needs. In all of our efforts, we strive to honor and expand upon existing relationships with physicians based upon St. Luke’s values.
Is it appropriate for hospitals to employ physicians?
Given the changes in the health care industry, more physicians have sought employment with hospitals in the past several years. Employment arrangements can improve access to care. Physicians employed by St. Luke’s, unlike most private practice physicians, do not limit the number of Medicaid or Medicare patients that they will see. In addition the employment arrangements relieve the physicians of many of the administrative duties that would otherwise take away time from patients.

St. Luke’s is committed to forming productive working relationships with physicians. These relationships take many forms. St. Luke’s considers a number of factors when evaluating an employment relationship with a physician:

  • Does it improve access to care for patients?
  • Does it enhance patient care and improve quality?
  • Does it create a more secure, supportive and productive environment for the physician to practice medicine?
  • Does it comply with all necessary regulations and laws?
  • Does it help to further St. Luke’s mission to improve the health of people in our region.
Will there still be choice if St. Luke's employs all of the region's physician groups?
St. Luke’s has never had an intention of employing all physicians. In fact in most areas there are a significant number of independent physicians. In Southwest Idaho for example, according to the Idaho Medical Association, St. Luke’s and other health systems only employ about half of all physicians.

Deciding to affiliate with either St. Luke’s or another health system remains the choice of each individual physician. St. Luke’s has a long history of working with independent physicians and we will continue to work and collaborate with physicians in the region regardless of whether they are employed or not employed by St. Luke’s.
Does St. Luke's require that St. Luke's employed or affiliated physicians only refer to St. Luke's facilities?
St. Luke’s does not require that patients be referred only to St. Luke’s facilities. The decision on where to refer a patient is based upon the patient’s wishes in consultation with his or her physician.
How does St. Luke's give back to the communities it serves?
Each December, St. Luke’s provides a community benefit report to the Ada County Commissioners and to the Twin Falls County Commissioners. The reports outline how much St. Luke’s paid in the previous fiscal year for unreimbursed services such as charity care, bad debt write-offs and under-reimbursed care covered through government programs such as Medicaid and Medicare. In addition, St. Luke’s also includes the amount donated to community services both in direct funds and in-kind donations as well as the amount of capital spending St. Luke’s incurs in the fiscal year. Click below to view the latest reports for fiscal year.

The St. Luke’s community benefit reports are available here.