Fitch: For-profit hospital industry seeing less immediate benefits of ACA — 7 key takeaways

Benefits of the Affordable Care Act are beginning to taper off for the for-profit hospital sector, according to Fitch Ratings' recent report.

Here are seven key takeaways from Fitch's report.

1. Although ACA-related benefits for the for-profit hospital sector are losing momentum, organic growth in patient volumes and pricing remained stable in the second quarter of fiscal year 2015.

2. Looking ahead, some of the 20 states that have not yet expanded Medicaid eligibility may decide to do so, catalyzing additional ACA-related benefits, according to the report.

3. Approximately 8 million Americans have acquired health insurance since Medicaid expansion began. Positive effects of expansion of the program began gaining momentum in the second half of 2014.

4. While the impacts of Medicaid expansion on the hospital industry should be long-lasting, the magnitude of the effects — mostly related to decreasing levels of uncompensated care and increasing patient utilization of healthcare services — is tapering as a result of the decreasing pace of coverage expansion.

5. Fitch believes financial incentives and willingness of the federal government to negotiate flexible terms of Medicaid expansion with state governments will increase the likelihood of states opting to expand Medicaid over the long run.

6. What were previously very strong rates of patient volume growth began to slow down during Q2 2015, with year-over-year growth in same-hospital admissions and adjusted admissions of 0.8% and 2.8%, respectively, according to the report.

7. The growing economy seems to be helping recover patient volumes, indicating that the trend of healthcare consumerism might result in the industry exhibiting more cyclicality, according to the report. Growth in consumer healthcare spending — such as purchasing insurance products like high deductible health plans — could increase the hospital industry's sensitivity to the financial health of the consumer.

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