NBC Montana examined tax returns filed by a handful of western Montana hospitals, and found out just what it costs to run a hospital. 

According to the 2011 tax returns filed by Community Medical Center in Missoula, that year’s revenue totaled roughly $153 million, with expenses of roughly $144 million. About $72 million went to salaries and other forms of compensation, and employee benefits. The CEO made nearly $452,000.

Bozeman Deaconess reportedly brought in about $188 million and paid about $81 million in salaries, compensations and benefits. It spent about $171 million. That year’s CEO made nearly $668,000.

At Kalispell Regional Medical Center, there was revenue of about $224 million, against expenses of about $216 million. Roughly $115 million went to salaries, compensation and employee benefits. The hospital’s president made roughly $672,000.

Larry White, a research associate professor at the University of Montana, tells NBC Montana that when it comes to CEO/President salaries, nonprofit hospitals must compete with for-profit hospitals in retaining talent.

White served as CEO of St. Patrick Hospital in Missoula for more than 20 years, and explained that there is also a high turnover rate for hospital executives, and the pay reflects the specialized talent it takes to handle large, complicated entities like hospitals.

“These are multi, multi-million dollar organizations [that] typically will have hundreds if not thousands of employees,” said White.  

White says nonprofit hospitals are obligated to show the IRS that they are paying executive salaries that are comparable to the same positions at other hospitals in a region.  

Bozeman Deaconess, Community Medical, KRMC and many other Montana hospitals operate as nonprofits, so the public can see how much they make and spend.

Readers interested in looking up other tax return data for nonprofit hospitals can visit Guidestar.org.