For-profit hospital operators likely to experience weak patient admissions through 2018

Major for-profit hospital operators were plagued by weak patient volumes in the quarter that ended June 30, and this trend is likely to continue through next year, according to Reuters.

Dallas-based Tenet Healthcare's net loss ballooned from $44 million in the second quarter of 2016 to $56 million in the second quarter of this year. The company's hospitals experienced softer patient volume in the second quarter of 2017, including fewer patients seeking elective procedures, according to Reuters.

Tenet's rivals, such as Nashville, Tenn.-based HCA Healthcare and Franklin, Tenn.-based Community Health Systems also experienced weak patient volumes in the second quarter. HCA ended the second quarter of 2017 with net income of $657 million, which was down slightly from $658 million in the same period of 2016. CHS recorded a net loss of $137 million in the second quarter of this year, compared to a net loss of $1.43 billion in the same period of 2016.

Tenet, HCA, CHS and other for-profit hospital operators experienced a surge in admissions in 2014 and 2015 due to higher insured rates under the ACA. However, many insurers have pulled back from the ACA exchanges since last year, which has caused the for-profit hospital operators to see lower patient volumes, analysts told Reuters.

The companies are expected to see weak patient admissions next year, as the future of the ACA remains uncertain and patients with high-deductible health plans face soaring out-of-pocket costs.

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