Does Nonprofit Ownership Matter?

62 Pages Posted: 26 Feb 2007

See all articles by Jill R. Horwitz

Jill R. Horwitz

UCLA School of Law; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)


In recent years, policymakers have increasingly questioned whether nonprofit institutions, particularly hospitals, merit tax exemption. They argue that nonprofit hospitals differ little from their for-profit counterparts in the provision of charity care and, therefore, should either lose their tax-exempt status or adhere to new, strict, and specific requirements to provide free services for the poor. In this Article, I present evidence that hospital ownership - whether it is for-profit, nonprofit, or government owned - has a significant effect on the mix of medical services it offers. Despite notoriously weak enforcement mechanisms, nonprofit hospitals act in the public interest by providing services that are unlikely to be offered by the other types of hospitals. Imposing onerous charity requirements or limiting nonprofit tax exemptions may have severe and unintended consequences for all patients, including the well-insured.

Keywords: nonprofit

JEL Classification: L31, H20

Suggested Citation

Horwitz, Jill R., Does Nonprofit Ownership Matter?. Yale Journal on Regulation, Vol. 24, Winter 2007, U of Michigan Law & Economics, Olin Working Paper No. 07-004, Available at SSRN:

Jill R. Horwitz (Contact Author)

UCLA School of Law ( email )

385 Charles E. Young Dr. East
Room 1242
Los Angeles, CA 90095-1476
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) ( email )

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

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