Citing inflation and labor cost pressures, Renton, Wash.-based Providence recorded an operating loss of $510.16 million in the first quarter of 2022, according to financial documents released May 13. In the same quarter one year prior, Providence posted an operating loss of $221.91 million.
In the quarter ended March 31, the 51-hospital health system saw its operating revenue hit $6.29 billion. In the same quarter one year prior, Providence recorded operating revenue of $6.44 billion.
Providence’s expenses grew about 2 percent year over year to $6.8 billion. In the comparable quarter in 2021, Providence recorded expenses of $6.67 billion. Providence attributed the expense increase to added costs of agency staff, overtime, retention and wage increases, as well as supply cost boosts.
Providence also said that excluding from the 2021 comparison the assets of Hoag Memorial Hospital Presbyterian in Newport Beach, Calif. — which split from Providence in January — the health system’s expenses grew 9 percent year over year.
After factoring in nonoperating items, including investment losses of $359 million and a $3.41 billion disaffiliation cost tied to the Hoag Memorial split, Providence recorded a net loss of $4.25 billion in the first quarter of 2022.
“With the pandemic, the last two years were challenging for many in healthcare. However, 2022 may be the biggest challenge yet,” Providence CFO Greg Hoffman said. “Rising costs due to inflation and the health care labor crisis are putting significant pressure on major U.S. health systems, some of whom have reported significant operating losses this quarter.”
CommonSpirit Health, a 142-hospital system based in Chicago, reported an operating loss for the three months ended March 31, according to financial documents released May 13.
CommonSpirit, formed through the 2019 merger of San Francisco-based Dignity Health and Englewood, Colo.-based Catholic Health Initiatives, saw revenues decline 6.6 percent year over year to $8.3 billion in the third quarter of fiscal year 2022, which ended March 31.
The health system also saw expenses rise. Total operating expenses reached nearly $8.9 billion in the three months ended March 31, up from $8.3 billion in the same period a year earlier. Expenses tied to salaries and benefits increased from $4.2 billion in the third quarter of fiscal year 2021 to nearly $4.7 billion in the most recent quarter.
CommonSpirit recorded an operating loss of $591 million in the three-month period ended March 31, compared to operating income of $539 million in the same period a year earlier.
CommonSpirit closed out the third quarter of fiscal year 2022 with a net loss of $592 million. In the same period of 2021, the health system reported net income of $1.7 billion.
Looking at the nine-month period ended March 31, CommonSpirit posted a net loss of $205 million on revenue of $25.7 billion. In the same period a year earlier, the system reported net income of $4.4 billion on revenue of $24.8 billion.
Minneapolis-based Allina Health posted an operating income of $128.8 million for the year ended Dec. 31, up from the $36.3 million loss in 2020, according to its financial results.
The 10-hospital system saw its net income jump 400.8 percent in 2021 to $381.1 million, compared to $76.1 million the year prior.
Allina’s total revenue increased by 11.3 percent, or $493 million, in 2021 compared to 2020. This was directly related to reduced volumes because of the mandatory shutdown in 2020, Allina said in the report. The system’s total patient revenue reached $4.5 billion in 2021, a 14.5 percent increase from the year before at $3.9 billion.
The health system’s operating expenses rose 7.5 percent for the 12 months months ended Dec. 31 to $4.7 billion, compared to $4.4 billion in 2020.
AdventHealth, a 48-hospital system based in Altamonte Springs, Fla., recorded a $417.72 net loss in the first quarter of 2022, driven by both investment and operating losses, according to recently released financial results.
In the quarter ended March 31, AdventHealth saw its revenue increase to $3.67 billion, up nearly 8 percent from the same period last year.
Although revenue was up, so were AdventHealth’s expenses. In the first quarter of 2022, AdventHealth saw its expenses grow to $3.72 billion, up from $3.23 billion recorded in the same period in 2021.
“The increased expense is primarily a result of elevated premium and contract labor costs and wage inflation resulting from workforce shortages,” AdventHealth stated in its financial report. “The system continues to implement workforce stabilization plans to reduce turnover and temporary labor utilization.”
AdventHealth ended the first quarter of 2022 with an operating loss of $46.75 million. In the same quarter of 2021, AdventHealth recorded an operating income of $179.11 million.
After factoring in nonoperating items, including a $372.16 million investment loss, AdventHealth ended the first quarter of 2022 with a net loss of $417.72 million. In the first quarter of 2021, AdventHealth recorded a $94.78 million net income.
Hospitals’ labor costs rose by more than a third from pre-pandemic levels by March 2022, according to a report out Wednesday from Kaufman Hall.
Heightened temporary and traveling labor costs were a main contributor, with contract labor accounting for 11% of hospitals’ total labor expenses in 2022 compared to 2% in 2019, the report found.
Contract nurses’ median hourly wages rose 106% over the period, from $64 an hour to $132 an hour, while employed nurse wages increased 11%, from $35 an hour to $39 an hour, the report found.
The new data from Kaufman Hall supports concerns hospital executives expressed while releasing first quarter earnings results, as higher-than expected labor costs spurred some operators, like HCA, to lower their financial full-year guidance.
The ongoing use of contract labor amid shortages driven by heightened turnover was a key factor executives cited for higher costs, and follows the findings from Kaufman Hall’s latest report.
More than a third of nurses surveyed by staffing firm Incredible Health said they plan to leave their current jobs by the end of this year, according to a March report. While burnout is driving them to leave, higher salaries are the top motivating factor for taking other positions, that report found.
Kaufman Hall’s report, which analyzes data from more than 900 hospitals across the country, found hospitals spent $5,494 in labor expenses per adjusted discharge in March compared to $4,009 roughly three years ago.
Costs rose for hospitals in every region, though the South and West experienced the largest increases from pre-pandemic levels as those expenses rose 43% and 42%, respectively.
The West and Northeast/Mid-Atlantic regions saw the highest expenses consistently from 2019 to 2022, according to the report.
“The pandemic made longstanding labor challenges in the healthcare sector much worse, making it far more expensive to care for hospitalized patients over the past two years,” said Erik Swanson, senior vice president of data and analytics at Kaufman Hall.
“Hospitals now face a number of pressures to attract and retain affordable clinical staff, maintain patient safety, deliver quality services and increase their efficiency,” Swanson said.
The report also notes that hospitals are competing with non-hospital employers also pursuing hourly staff, though those companies can pass along wage increases to consumers through higher prices “in a way healthcare organizations cannot,” the report said.
Some hospitals, like HCA Healthcare and Universal Health Services, are looking to raise prices for health plans amid rising nurse salaries, according to reporting from The Wall Street Journal.
Another recent report from group purchasing organization Premier found the CMS underestimated hospital labor spending when making payment adjustments for the 2022 fiscal year, resulting in hospitals receiving only a 2.4% rate increase compared to a 6.5% increase in hospital labor rates.
To match the rates hospitals are now paying staff, an adequate inpatient payment update for fiscal 2023 is needed, that report said.
The CMS proposed its IPPS rule for FY 2023 on April 18 that includes a 3.2% hike to inpatient hospital payments, which provider groups like the American Hospital Association rebuked as “simply unacceptable” considering inflation and rising hospital labor costs.
St. Louis-based Ascension reported higher expenses in the three months ended March 31 and ended the quarter with a loss, according to financial documents filed April 29.
The 143-hospital system reported operating revenue of $6.69 billion in the first three months of this year, up from $6.56 billion in the same period of 2021.
Ascension’s operating expenses climbed to $7.34 billion in the first three months of 2022, up from $6.59 billion in the same period a year earlier. The increase was attributed to several factors, including higher salaries, wages and supply expenses.
Looking at the first nine months of the current fiscal year, Ascension’s operating expenses increased 8.7 percent year over year. Staffing challenges, increased use of contract labor and overtime spend pushed Ascension’s total salaries, wages and benefits up 10.1 percent year over year in the nine months ended March 31.
Ascension ended the most recent quarter with an operating loss of $671.14 million, compared to an operating loss of $16.71 million in the same period last year.
After factoring in nonoperating items, Ascension reported a net loss of $884.74 million for the three months ended March 31. A year earlier, the health system posted net income of $957.32 million. For the first nine months ended March 31, Ascension reported net income of $145.21 million, compared to $4.77 billion in the same period a year earlier.
As of March 31, Ascension had 295 days cash on hand, compared to 336 days as of June 30, 2021.
For the quarter ending March 31, 2022, Kaiser Foundation Health Plan, Inc., Kaiser Foundation Hospitals, and their respective subsidiaries (KFHP/H) reported total operating revenues of $24.2 billion and total operating expenses of $24.3 billion compared to total operating revenues of $23.2 billion and total operating expenses of $22.2 billion in the same period of the prior year. There was an operating loss of $0.07 billion, or (0.3%) of total operating revenues, for the first quarter of the year compared to operating income of $1.0 billion, or 4.4%, in the first quarter of 2021.
During the first quarter of 2022, a surge in COVID-19 cases — the steepest since the start of the pandemic — led to a substantial increase in the demand for related care and testing. COVID-19 expenses drove an additional $1.4 billion in expenses. Those expenses, along with the costs of providing care to our members that was deferred earlier in the pandemic, were the primary drivers of additional expenses. In the first quarter of 2022, Kaiser Permanente cared for more than 688,000 patients with COVID-19, including more than 26,000 hospitalized patients, performed 2.5 million COVID-19 diagnostic tests, supplied 1.3 million COVID-19 home tests, and administered 1.4 million vaccine doses. In addition, like the rest of the industry, Kaiser Permanente experienced significant increases in labor costs during the first quarter of 2022, compared to the same period last year and when compared to year-end 2021.
“I am incredibly proud of the extraordinary people of Kaiser Permanente, who have stepped up time and time again to provide high-quality care and service to our members and communities during unparalleled challenges,” said chair and chief executive officer Greg A. Adams. “While in the first quarter, the ongoing effects of the pandemic strained our workforce, communities, and operations, our operating model, which provides both care and coverage, enabled us to continue providing that care even in the face of an unprecedented omicron surge and industrywide labor shortage. Our underlying operating performance remains solid and aligned with expectations.”
In the category of other income and expense, the quarterly loss totaled $889 million, driven largely by investment losses, compared to $1.0 billion in income in the same period of the prior year. For the quarter, there was a net loss of $961 million compared to net income of $2.0 billion in 2021.
Capital spending in the first quarter totaled $872 million compared to $906 million in the same period of the prior year. During the first 3 months of 2022, Kaiser Permanente opened a new, 220,000-square-foot medical facility in Timonium, Maryland, that features 24-hour advanced urgent care and a 24-hour pharmacy, along with an ambulatory surgery center.
“While the increase in pandemic-related expenses, overall rising costs, and investment market losses impacted our finances this quarter, Kaiser Permanente navigated this challenging time providing high-quality care and continued investing in our integrated model including ongoing capital investments to best serve our members. We controlled discretionary spending, optimized COVID-19 testing, addressed surgical backlogs, and managed outside medical expenses,” said executive vice president and chief financial officer Kathy Lancaster. “As we face the ongoing uncertainty and prolonged effects the pandemic is having on the health care industry, we are well positioned to continue delivering high-quality, affordable care and remain vigilant stewards of resources entrusted to us in this dynamic environment.”
Membership as of March 31, 2022, was 12.6 million, reflecting a growth of more than 88,000 members since December 31, 2021. Medicaid enrollees accounted for almost 33,000 of Kaiser Permanente’s new members.
The combination of the Omicron surge, lackluster volume recovery, and rising expenses have contributed to a poor financial start of the year for most health systems. The graphic above shows that, after a healthier-than-expected 2021,the average hospital’s operating margin fell back into the red in early 2022, clocking in more than four percent lower than pre-pandemic levels.
Despite operational challenges, however, many of the largest health systems continue to garner headlines for their sizable profits, thanks to significant returns on their investment portfolios in 2021.
While CommonSpirit and Providence each posted negative operating margins for the second half of 2021, and Ascension managed a small operating profit, all three were able to use investment income to cushion their performance.
A growing number of health systems are doubling down on investment strategies in an effort to diversify revenue streams, and capture the kind of returns from investments generated by venture capital firms. However, it is unlikely that revenue diversification will be a sustainable long-term strategy.
To succeed, health systems must look to reconfigure elements of the legacy business model that are proving financially unsustainable amid rising expenses, shifts of care to lower-cost settings, and an evolving, consumer-centric landscape.