Hospitals and health systems in Southeastern Pennsylvania provided $1.8 billion in community benefit in 2011, according to a report released Tuesday by the Delaware Valley Healthcare Council.

Less than 10 percent of that, or $146 million, was from charity care at nonprofit hospitals in the DVHC analysis, which was based on data in tax forms for the year ended June 30, 2011, for most hospitals.

In aggregate, the cost of charity care accounted for less than 1 percent of expenses at 26 hospitals and health systems in Philadelphia and Bucks, Chester, Delaware, and Montgomery Counties, according to an Inquirer analysis.

Charity care is for those who qualify for financial assistance when they show up at a hospital without insurance or other means to pay. It does not include amounts written off as bad debt. The figures are reported as an estimated cost rather than as gross charges.

Aria, which has hospitals in Philadelphia and Bucks Counties, spent the most on charity care relative to expenses. Its $16.9 million in charity care accounted for 4.3 percent of its expenses, the Inquirer analysis showed.

Temple University Hospital spent $19.5 million on charity care, the most in absolute terms. That was 2.42 percent of expenses, the sixth-highest ratio, according to the Inquirer analysis.

The smallest percentages of charity care were at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, at 0.11 percent, and the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, at 0.12 percent, the Inquirer analysis showed. CHOP benefits from the availability of government-subsidized health insurance for most children.

The biggest single category in the DVHC report was research, which accounted for 47 percent of the total community benefit.

HUP and Children's were responsible for $845 million of the $850 million in spending on research tallied in the DVHC report. Most of that money comes to the region through the National Institutes of Health.

The $850 million does not include Thomas Jefferson University, which is affiliated with Thomas Jefferson University Hospitals but is independent. It spent $97.8 million on research in fiscal 2011, according to its consolidated financial statement.

The DVHC also released data on the economic impact of hospitals in the region, which employ 99,300, or about 5 percent of the region's workforce, the council said.

"Hospitals sustain the health and economic vitality of Southeastern Pennsylvania," said Curt Schroder, regional director of the DVHC, part of the Hospital and Health System Association of Pennsylvania.

"In all five counties," he said, "they are among the top five employers, providing stable, family-sustaining jobs and high-quality health care."