Jun 26, 2019

Hospitals' profits cost patients billions

Photo: Shannon Fagan/Getty Images

Once you pull together Medicare, Medicaid and private insurance, hospitals end up with an average payment rate that's about 34% higher than what Medicare pays on its own, according to a report by the left-leaning Center for American Progress.

Why it matters: Hospitals are by far the biggest driver of U.S. health care spending, making hospital care a prime target for payment cuts — but the industry maintains that it couldn't survive solely on the rates government programs pay.

What they're saying: Those are the top-line numbers for hospitals overall. CAP also broke out a group limited to acute care hospitals.

  • Among those facilities, total profit was $63.6 billion, suggesting that "stronger rate regulation could save Americans tens of billions of dollars on hospital expenditures, even if rates were tailored to keep afloat loss-making hospitals that are crucial to patient access," CAP's Emily Gee writes.

By the numbers: The acute care hospitals included in the analysis had a 7% total profit margin, on average, in 2016 — less than drug companies' margins but greater than insurers'.

  • Hospital margins have increased over the last decade.

Yes, but: Not all hospitals are the same.

  • For-profit hospitals had an average total margin of 11%, nonprofit hospitals had a 7% margin, and public hospitals had a 5% margin.
  • About a quarter of hospitals lost money in 2016, including 40% of public hospitals.

Go deeper: Hospitals' prices keep going up

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Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 1 p.m. ET: 691,867 — Total deaths: 32,988 — Total recoveries: 146,613.
  2. U.S.: Leads the world in cases. Total confirmed cases as of 1 p.m. ET: 125,433 — Total deaths: 2,201 — Total recoveries: 2,612.
  3. Federal government latest: The first federal prisoner to die from coronavirus was reported from a correctional facility in Louisiana on Sunday.
  4. Public health updates: Fauci says 100,000 to 200,000 Americans could die from virus.
  5. State updates: Louisiana governor says state is on track to exceed ventilator capacity by end of this week — Cuomo says Trump's mandatory quarantine comments "really panicked" people
  6. World updates: Italy reported 756 new deaths, bringing its total 10,779. Spain reported almost 840 dead, another new daily record, bringing its total to over 6,500.
  7. What should I do? Answers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingQ&A: Minimizing your coronavirus risk
  8. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it.

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Cuomo: Trump's mandatory quarantine comments "really panicked people"

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said in a press conference Sunday that President Donald Trump's unexpected Saturday announcement of a possible "short-term" quarantine of New York, New Jersey and parts of Connecticut to curb the spread of the coronavirus "really panicked people."

Why it matters: Though Trump ruled out the mandatory quarantine later that day, Cuomo said people still called "all night long" asking about the comments and many likely fled the New York area — possibly spreading the virus further.

Go deeperArrow38 mins ago - Health

U.S. coronavirus updates: Fauci suggests death toll could top 100,000

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said on CNN Sunday that models suggest COVID-19 will infect millions of Americans and could kill 100,000–200,000, though he stressed that the projections are "such a moving target."

The big picture: With more than 121,000 people infected, the U.S. has the most COVID-19 cases in the world, exceeding China and Italy, per data from Johns Hopkins. A second wave of American cities, including Boston, Detroit, New Orleans and Philadelphia, reported influxes of cases on Saturday.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 1 hour ago - Health