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

Industry reports had suggested that the outlook for hospitals and health systems has deteriorated in 2022 because of the ongoing effects of the pandemic (such as labor shortages), decreases in government relief and broader economic trends that have led to rising prices and investment losses.

KFF recently examined the financial performance of HCA Healthcare, Tenet Healthcare Corp. and Community Health Systems, which collectively account for about 8% of all community hospital beds nationally. Operating margins reflect the profit margins earned on patient care and other operations of a given health system — such as from gift shops, parking and cafeterias — and incorporate government COVID-19 relief funds.

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