These 10 hospitals have the biggest surpluses — and they're mostly nonprofit

A small percentage of U.S. hospitals earned large profits from patient care services in 2013, and seven of the 10 most profitable were nonprofit hospitals, according to research from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and Washington and Lee University.

For the study, published in Health Affairs, researchers analyzed fiscal year 2013 data for about 3,000 acute care hospitals. Fifty-nine percent of hospitals analyzed were nonprofit, 25 percent were for-profit and 16 percent were public. To measure profitability the researchers examined net income from patient care services.

Although more than half of hospitals lost money on patient care in fiscal 2013, the 10 most profitable each earned more than $163 million, according to the study.

Nonprofit Gundersen Lutheran Medical Center in La Crosse, Wis., profited the most from patient care in FY 2013, bringing in $302.5 million, or $4,241 per patient.

"The system is broken when nonprofit hospitals are raking in such high profits," said study leader Gerard F. Anderson, PhD, a professor in the Department of Health Policy and Management at the Bloomberg School. "The most profitable hospitals should either lower their prices or put those profits into other services within the community."

However, some of the hospitals on the list say the study's methodology for calculating profitability of hospitals that are part of a larger system is flawed. In a statement, Gundersen told the Washington Post that the study does not accurately reflect its cost as an integrated health system with a large Medicare population.

Overall, hospitals that are part of a system were most profitable. The study also revealed rural hospitals and major teaching hospitals tended to lose more on patient care than urban hospitals and those with minor or no teaching component.

Here are the 10 U.S. hospitals that profited the most from patient care, according to the study.

1. Gundersen Lutheran Medical Center (La Crosse, Wis.) | Nonprofit | Profit: $302.5 million

2. Sutter Medical Center (Sacramento, Calif.) | Nonprofit | $271.9 million

3. Stanford Hospital and Clinics (Palo Alto, Calif.) | Nonprofit | $224.7 million

4. Norton Hospital (Louisville, Ky.) | Nonprofit | $211.2 million

5. Medical City Dallas Hospital | For-profit | $210.3 million

6. Swedish Medical Center (Englewood, Colo.) | For-profit | $192.5 million

7. Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania (Philadelphia) | Nonprofit | $184.5 million

8. Methodist Hospital (San Antonio) | For-profit | $172.4 million

9. Sacred Heart Medical Center (Springfield, Ore.) | Nonprofit | $171.2 million

10. Carle Foundation Hospital (Urbana, Ill.) | Nonprofit | $163.5 million

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