Ascension operating income falls 5.3% as net income plummets

Ascension Health, which operates 131 hospitals across the nation, saw its operating margin shrink to 2.8 percent in its most recent quarter, compared to a 3 percent operating margin in the same period a year ago.

The St. Louis-based health system reported revenue of nearly $5.2 billion for the quarter that ended Sept. 30, up 1.6 percent from the same period in 2014. Ascension's expenses also grew during the most recent quarter, rising about 1.7 percent year over year.

The health system ended the quarter with operating income of $112 million, down 5.3 percent from the same period a year ago.

While observation days and emergency department visits decreased 4.8 percent and 0.9 percent, respectively, inpatient admissions at Ascension's facilities increased 1.7 percent, as compared to the same period of last year.

"Inpatient admissions and equivalent discharges increased in part due to expanded health insurance coverage as provided by the ACA and through Medicaid expansion," said Nick Ragone, chief communications and marketing officer at Ascension.

After accounting for a major hit on the health system's investment portfolio, Ascension ended the quarter with a net loss of nearly $682 million. That's compared to a net loss of $103.9 million in the same period a year ago.

"While our investment results continue to fluctuate, we maintain a consistent, long-term investment strategy," Mr. Ragone said.

More articles on healthcare finance:

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Financial troubles surface at another Forest Park hospital after flagship facility closes
Geisinger to begin offering refunds to unsatisfied patients

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