The Non-Profit Difference

For-profit hospices and home care are some of the fastest growing market sectors in America, with billion-dollar mergers and sales and take-overs announced frequently – even through the pandemic. So what are the primary differences between Iowa Care Community and our for-profit competitors?

Purpose: By our charters, Iowa Care Community (and Iowa City Hospice and VNA of Johnson County) have an overarching mission to serve our patients and community. For-profits are by their very nature fiscally focused, and must continually increase revenues and cut costs to provide good investor returns.

Transparency: All 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations are required to make their tax returns public. You can find them on the internet, and so can everyone else. Privately-held companies are able to keep their income and expenses a secret.

Politics: Tax-exempt nonprofit organizations are not permitted to engage in partisan political activity. Individuals within the nonprofit can support whomever they like, and issue-related advocacy is usually okay. But the organization as a whole cannot endorse or oppose any candidate for public office. For-profits can contribute unlimited amounts to any issue or candidate via Political Action Committees and other means.

Leadership: Iowa Care Community is governed by a board of local community volunteers. All decisions are made right here in offices in the heart of our territory. Many for-profits have highly compensated boards who serve at corporate headquarters disconnected from the communities they serve. High-level decision-making can be a time-consuming process up a complex ladder of authority.

Service: We live to serve. Literally. That’s why we’re here. Our objective is what’s best for the patient and their individual goals of care. We will take patients of any income level, and provide the best possible care for those with even the most expensive health conditions. Companies that focus only on money are incentivized to treat the least expensive conditions with the lowest level of effort.

There are certainly for-profits that positively impact their communities, just as there are nonprofits that come up short. Knowing the difference can give valuable insight and impact important decisions.

How can you tell if a hospice or home care organization is a nonprofit? Check out their website – if their URL ends in .org, chances are they are a nonprofit. If it ends in .com, most likely not. If they accept donations, look for mention of their 501(c)(3) status, which they’ll definitely mention for tax purposes. You can also look to Propublica or GuideStar for nonprofit tax filings.