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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