Large hospital system profits recover

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UCHealth Memorial Central (Courtesy UCHealth)

The state released a report on statewide hospital profits on Jan. 18, which showed that Colorado hospitals — especially urban and nonprofit “mega-systems” — have bounced back from pandemic losses and reached positive profit margins in 2021. 

Statewide, hospitals saw a 10.2 percent — or $1.831 billion — increase in patient revenues between 2020 and 2021, according to the Hospital Expenditure Report from the Department of Health Care Policy & Financing. (These are the revenues a hospital makes from patients or their health insurance payments.) And that doesn’t include the $1.2 billion in federal stimulus dollars that hospitals received that year to make up for losses during the COVID pandemic.

By 2021, urban and system-based hospitals in the state had a median 245 days of cash on hand — 20 days more than the pre-pandemic median in 2019, the report says. The department used UCHealth as an example of how well these larger systems are doing: UCHealth had a 26.1 percent total profit margin and an 8.5 percent patient services margin in 2021. Large systems like Centura Health and UCHealth, the report says, “could cut prices significantly and still thrive financially.”

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