HCA co-founder's net worth hits a high

Shares of Nashville, Tenn.-based HCA Healthcare hit an all-time high last month, and a major shareholder is feeling that big lift. 

Thomas Frist Jr., MD, co-founder and major shareholder of HCA Healthcare, has seen his estimated net worth climb by about $5 billion year over year, reaching a new high. The Bloomberg Billionaires Index puts his net worth, which was $22.5 billion at this time last year, at $27.5 billion today. Forbes puts Dr. Frist's wealth at $20.2 billion in 2023 and $25.2 billion today. (The two outlets use different methodologies to arrive at their estimates.) 

HCA operates 186 hospitals and 49,588 total licensed beds. Its stock price soared past $300 per share — $310 at the time of publication — following an 8% increase in revenue in 2023. By comparison, Dallas-based Tenet Healthcare stock stands at about $90 per share and King of Prussia, Pa.-based Universal Health Services stock is at about $162 per share. 

Even before its latest financial results, financial advisers suggested HCA as opportune. "Running a hospital isn't easy — but HCA Healthcare's scale gives it advantages that help it grow like few healthcare systems can," according to a December 2023 article headlined "Buy This Hospital Stock. It's Making the Best of a Bad Situation" in Barron's. "With the stock underperforming this year on weight-loss drug fears, shares now look like a buy." 

Dr. Frist Jr., 85, co-founded HCA Healthcare with his father, Thomas Frist Sr., MD, and entrepreneur Jack Massey in 1968. Dr. Frist Jr. owns more than 20% of the enterprise, which is the largest publicly-traded hospital company in the country. He led HCA as CEO for 24 years and as chairman and CEO for 14 years. Dr. Frist Jr. no longer holds an executive position with HCA, but his sons — Thomas Frist III and William Frist — are board members. The company is led by Sam Hazen, a 40-year veteran of the company who took its helm in 2019 after time spent as COO. 

A native of Nashville, Dr. Frist Jr. is the wealthiest person in Tennessee and one of the wealthiest in the healthcare industry. Before founding HCA, he served as a surgical intern at Vanderbilt Medical Center in Nashville and as a flight surgeon in the U.S. Air Force during the Vietnam War. Dr. Frist Jr. and his family helped fund the renovation and opening of Nashville's Frist Art Museum in the early aughts, along with other grants and investments from the Frist Foundation, where his children serve on the board. Dr. Frist Jr.'s brother, Bill Frist, MD, served as a U.S. senator from Tennessee from 1995 to 2007.

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