Sign up for our daily briefing

Make your busy days simpler with the Axios AM and PM newsletters. Catch up on what's new and why it matters in just 5 minutes.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on the day's biggest business stories

Subscribe to the Axios Closer newsletter for insights into the day’s business news and trends and why they matter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Sign up for Axios Pro Rata

Dive into the world of dealmakers across VC, PE and M&A with Axios Pro Rata. Delivered daily to your inbox by Dan Primack and Kia Kokalitcheva.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Sports news worthy of your time

Binge on the stats and stories that drive the sports world with the Axios Sports newsletter. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Tech news worthy of your time

Get our smart take on technology from the Valley and D.C. with Axios Login. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Get the inside stories

Get an insider's guide to the new White House with Axios Sneak Peek. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Denver news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Denver

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Des Moines news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Des Moines newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Twin Cities news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Twin Cities

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Tampa Bay news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Tampa Bay newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Charlotte news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Charlotte

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Nashville news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Nashville newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Columbus news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Columbus newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Dallas news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Dallas newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Austin news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Austin newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Atlanta news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Atlanta newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Philadelphia news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Philadelphia newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Chicago news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Chicago newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Sign up for Axios NW Arkansas

Stay up-to-date on the most important and interesting stories affecting NW Arkansas, authored by local reporters

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top DC news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios DC newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

In July, the head of the American Hospital Association blasted UnitedHealth Group for its "jaw-dropping" profits in the second quarter. But an analysis of financial documents shows a sample of large not-for-profit hospital systems that collectively generated the same amount of revenue as the insurance giant were almost three times more profitable than UnitedHealth.

Reality check: Companies and lobbying groups often paint their business foes as the primary problems with the health care system, but each sector contributes to the system's dysfunction.

By the numbers: UnitedHealth Group, which also increasingly owns doctors and other services, posted a net profit of $4.3 billion on $71.3 billion of revenue in the second quarter.

  • UnitedHealth's operating profit, which excludes taxes and interest, totaled $6 billion.
  • Axios looked at the Q2 financial data for 24 major tax-exempt hospital systems that combined for roughly $72 billion of revenue, on par with UnitedHealth.

Those 24 systems combined for a net profit of $11.9 billion, or nearly three times UnitedHealth's net profit in the quarter.

  • The hospitals' operating profit, which excludes investment income, was $3.6 billion, or about 60% of UnitedHealth's operating profit.
  • Hospitals often point to their operating incomes when referring to slim margins without taking into account the benefits from their investments.
  • The American Hospital Association didn't make anyone available for an interview, but sent a statement that said, "Comparing one commercial insurer to one hospital or health system doesn't give Axios the story you want to publish, so instead you're comparing one insurer to 24 health systems comprised of hundreds of hospitals that provide care 24/7."
  • The analysis looked at a group of systems, instead of just one system, to provide a better average of how large systems were doing. Individually, some hospital systems like Mayo Clinic (31% net margin) and Indiana University Health (28% net margin) are significantly more profitable than UnitedHealth (6% net margin).

The bottom line: Health care has been as profitable as ever during the pandemic. That has been true for both hospitals and health insurers.

Go deeper

Updated Dec 15, 2021 - Axios Events

Watch: A conversation on climate resilience in the health care system

On Wednesday, December 15th, Axios health care editor Tina Reed and senior editor Sam Baker discussed how the health care sector is considering its environmental impact through policy and infrastructure, featuring National Academy of Medicine president Dr. Victor J. Dzau and Rep. Lauren Underwood (D-Ill.).

Dr. Victor J. Dzau described how various entities can collaborate to drive down health care industry emissions, the intersection between climate change and adverse health effects, and practical steps the industry can take to reduce its own carbon footprint.

  • On health care industry contributions to climate change: “The U.S. health sector contributes 8.5%, as much as even up to 10%, of carbon emissions in the United States, that’s a huge number. As a system that cares for patients, certainly we should not contribute to climate change and the negative health effects of climate change.”
  • On public-private collaboration to reduce industry emissions: “Health care also buys lots of products, and the supply chain emits a huge amount of carbon and greenhouse emissions. So supply chain, such as transportation, packaging, manufacturing, can all change…let’s now think about how to innovate and how to get systematic changes to reduce overall the emission of carbon in our health sector.”

Rep. Lauren Underwood highlighted how the health care industry should be thinking about climate resiliency in their infrastructure, the need for more investment in health care systems amidst a rise in destructive climate-related extreme weather, and how the system as a whole should address its own environmental impact.

  • On the need for more investment in climate resiliency: “The key is getting that incorporated into our policies and procedures at the institution health systems level and making sure that support is there with our federal policies and reimbursement structures to make sure that all patients have access to the health care that they need in the aftermath of these weather-related disasters…”
  • On the role of the health care system in addressing environmental impacts: “I think that at a really tactical level, it’s the responsibility of health care systems to be encouraging their providers to have these conversations with their individual patients, make sure that those patients understand the specific climate change related risks that are associated with the co-morbidities that they may be presenting with.”

Axios Chief Business Officer Fabricio Drumond hosted a View from the Top segment with HDA president & chief executive officer Chester “Chip” Davis, Jr., who explained how the health care sector is working to decarbonize their supply chains.

  • “I think the other thing that you see is many companies in the industry that are focused on laying down their own public-facing commitments to reduce their own carbon footprint. We have a number of our leading members who have talked about setting public goals to, for example, a 50% reduction in their greenhouse gas emissions by 2030.”

Thank you HDA for sponsoring this event.

Rep. Lamborn may have misused official resources, ethics panel alleges

Rep. Doug Lamborn departs from a news conference held by the House Republican Israel Caucus on May 19, 2021 in Washington, D.C. Photo: Caroline Brehman/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

Congressional ethics investigators said Monday there is "substantial reason" to believe that Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-Colo.) misused official resources and solicited or accepted improper gifts from subordinates.

Driving the news: Lamborn's aides told investigators they were often asked to run personal errands for his wife, Jeanie Lamborn, and were at one point tasked with helping his son apply for a federal position, according to the Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE). Lamborn strongly denies the allegations.

Biden calls Fox News reporter a "stupid son of a b---h" on hot mic

President Biden blasted Fox News' Peter Doocy on Monday after the reporter asked if the nation's soaring inflation is a political liability, saying, "what a stupid son of a b----h."

Driving the news: The Biden administration has faced rising inflation rates over recent months, which it has labeled as "transitory."