- Universal Health Services posted profits for the fourth quarter and full year of 2020 that were up year over year despite rising expenses from COVID-19 patients and labor costs.
- At acute care hospitals on a same-facility basis, admissions overall were down 15.2% for the year, though revenue was up slightly at $11.6 billion for 2020. The system's guidance for this year predicts a revenue increase of about 5% to 7% despite concerns from the industry that expenses could continue to mount.
- UHS fell victim to a massive cyberattack in September, disrupting standard operating procedures so much that ambulance traffic and scheduled procedures were diverted to competitor facilities, the operator said in its 10-K report. The incident lost UHS $67 million in the back half of the year.
UHS is the latest for-profit operator to report it turned a profit through the pandemic, following HCA Healthcare, Tenet and Community Health Systems.
Fourth quarter net income benefited from $200 million in federal funding used to aid providers during the pandemic.
But the fourth quarter consisted heavily of caring for COVID-19 patients, contributing to rising expenses, particularly labor costs, executives said on Friday’s call. Fourth quarter expenses topped $2.67 billion, up from $2.55 billion in the third quarter.
"Historical thinking about higher acuity doesn't really apply to COVID patients," CFO Steve Filton said on Friday's call. "They're medical patients, they're sick, they're often older, their length of stay is quite a bit longer, and they're just simply not as profitable as surgical or procedural patients."
Still, the King of Prussia, Pennsylvania-based health system posted a $308.7 million profit in the fourth quarter of 2020, compared to $245 million during the prior-year period. Yearly profit was $944 million, up from $815 million in 2019.
Lengths of stay at UHS' 26 acute care hospitals were 5.3 days at 2020's end compared with 4.6 at the end of 2019.