When it comes to hospitals, what you may think of is the care you'll receive, not if it's a not-for-profit or a for-profit facility.
It turns out, an overwhelming majority of hospitals in the state are not-for-profit and consumers should know the difference.
Of the 117 traditional hospitals in the state, only 17 are for profit businesses.
That means 100 are not-for-profit, but don't let the name fool you. A not-for-profit hospital DOES make money.
"They make lots of money, yes. Not for profits doesn't mean we're not in it for the money. They need to have what they call a fund balance, or profit. And in order to do that, that's to keep building their operations. Their buildings need to be updated, maintenance occurs, they buy new systems and all of that takes profit to make happen," explains Eric Ford, PhD., The University of North Carolina, Greensboro.
Professor Eric Ford says the bigger difference between the two kinds of hospitals is not in how much money they make but in how they spend their revenue.
For profits or investor owned hospitals can give their profits to shareholders or owners and can use it to reinvest in their business.
On the other hand, not for profits can only use their earnings for hospital expenses.
Not for profit hospitals are exempt from all taxes - that includes property, corporate, and income taxes.
These exemptions are earned through a community benefit standard, much like a church.
"That's where there is a lot of gnashing of teeth about are they really doing enough," explains Ford. "They generally try to show that they've provided a dollar amount that's equal to or exceeds what their taxes would have been for profit."
Ford says once a hospital earns it's not for profit status, it typically stands. There's no renewal process.