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The Nation’s Largest For-Profit Health Systems Have Typically Had Operating Margins That Meet or Exceed Pre-Pandemic Levels

Despite higher inflation and dwindling COVID-19 relief funding from the federal government, the nation’s largest for-profit health systems so far this year have operating margins that meet or exceed levels in 2019 prior to the pandemic, a new KFF analysis finds.

The analysis examines the financial performance of the three largest for-profit systems in the country, HCA Healthcare, Tenet Healthcare Corporation, and Community Health Systems, which collectively account for about 8 percent of all community hospital beds nationally.

All three systems had positive operating margins that exceeded pre-pandemic levels for the majority of the pandemic, including most recently in the third quarter of 2022. For most of the pandemic, HCA has had operating margins of at least 10 percent and Tenet has had operating margins of at least 5 percent.  Community Health Systems’ operating margins have been lower, but the health system also had lower margins before the pandemic.

The analysis is part of KFF’s expanding work examining the business practices of hospitals and other providers and their impact on costs and affordability.

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