Wisconsin hospitals made billions in 2021, but 2022 a major challenge

Wisconsin hospitals made almost $4 billion in net income in fiscal year 2021 amid pandemic recovery, but 2022 is shaping up to be a whole different story in the state as it feels the effects of staff burnout, record inflation and shrinking margins, a report from the Wisconsin Hospital Association showed.

The report, as well as looking at 2021, projected data for fiscal year 2022. The data show a stark contrast, the report writers said.

"As the data in this report shows, the pandemic drove down hospital profitability in 2020, followed by a brief recovery in 2021," according to the report. "Profitability in 2021 rose as delayed care returned, CARES federal funding came to bear, and hospital investments proved effective, but projections for health system profitability in 2022 show there is again downward pressure on profitability."

For example, overall operating margins totaled 3.9 percent in 2019, 2.9 percent in 2020, 4.5 percent in 2021, but -0.4 percent so far in 2022.

For fiscal year 2021, here are some of the highlights from the report, which surveyed 152 hospitals in the state, 139 of which were nonprofit entities.

  • Net income totaled $3.98 billion on total revenue of $27.67 billion.
  • Salaries and benefits accounted for 42.9 percent of overall expenses.
  • Medicare totaled 46.2 percent of total patient revenue, while Medicaid totaled 14.8 percent.
  • Twenty-one hospitals in the state lost money compared with 32 in fiscal year 2020.

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