Photo: Rafael Henrique/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

HCA Healthcare, the largest for-profit hospital chain in the country, smashed Wall Street's second-quarter profit expectations even though the coronavirus outbreak forced hospitals to halt elective procedures for several weeks during the quarter.

The bottom line: Medical claims and revenues noticeably declined among hospitals during the height of the pandemic, which has benefited health insurers. But that didn't prevent hospitals from making a lot of money, a large chunk of which was directly subsidized by taxpayers in the form of bailout funds.

By the numbers: HCA's second-quarter profit was roughly $1.1 billion, a 38% increase from the same period a year ago.

  • HCA has received $1.4 billion in coronavirus bailout funds to date, of which $822 million was recognized in the second quarter. After taking out taxes, HCA recorded $590 million in taxpayer bailouts in the quarter — representing 55% of its profit.
  • Revenue in the quarter dropped 12%, to $11.1 billion.

Between the lines: The decline in patient visits was short-lived at most HCA facilities.

  • Hospitalizations in the second quarter were down 13% year over year, and outpatient surgeries fell 33%.
  • But by June, everything was mostly back to normal, HCA CFO Bill Rutherford said on an investor call. HCA's outpatient surgeries were actually 1% higher in June, when compared with last June.

The big picture: HCA's extremely profitable report comes on the same day that the health care industry is asking Congress for an additional $100 billion in taxpayer bailouts.

Go deeper: The coronavirus is further dividing rich and poor hospitals

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Caitlin Owens, author of Vitals
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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

There's been a sharp drop in mortality rates among hospitalized coronavirus patients, including older patients and those with pre-existing health conditions, per two new peer-reviewed studies.

By the numbers: One study that looked at a single health system found that hospitalized patients had a 25.6% chance of dying at the start of the pandemic, but now have only a 7.6% chance, NPR reports.

Oct 20, 2020 - World

Argentina becomes 5th country to report 1 million coronavirus cases

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Argentina's health ministry reported 12,982 new coronavirus cases Monday night, taking the country's total to 1,002,662.

Why it matters: Argentina is the fifth country to surpass 1 million COVID-19 cases, after Russia (over 1.4 million), Brazil (more than 5.2 million), India (7.5-plus) and the U.S. (over 8.2 million), per Johns Hopkins. "It means one in every 45 Argentinians have had the virus," the Guardian notes. The country reported Monday that the virus had killed another 451 people, taking the death toll to over 26,000.

Editor's note: The headline of this story has been corrected to show Argentina passed 1 million cases not 5 million.

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CDC: Two-thirds of excess deaths were from COVID-19

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About 285,000 more people have died in the U.S. than anticipated, and 66% of those fatalities were due to COVID-19, a report out Tuesday from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows.

By the numbers: The deaths, recorded between Feb. 1 and Sept. 16, disproportionately affect Latinx and Black Americans. The "excess death" rate among 25-to-44 year-olds is also up about 27% from previous years.