- Kaiser Permanente generated a profit of $2 billion in the first quarter of 2021, the integrated health system reported Friday, bouncing back from a staggering $1.1 billion loss in the first quarter of last year, largely tied to investment losses amid the stock market slide spurred by the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Still, operating income declined nearly 18% compared to the first quarter of last year as expenses grew at a faster rate than revenue.
- Kaiser provided insurance coverage to 12.5 million people at the end of March, a slight increase from the 12.4 million it covered at the same time last year.
Even though U.S. hospitalizations and cases of COVID-19 peaked in the beginning of the quarter, many of the nation's largest hospital operators were able to weather those headwinds.
Cases and deaths are declining in the U.S. as more vaccines to fend off the virus are administered. About 34% of the U.S. population is fully vaccinated, according to figures with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Public health experts have previously said to reach herd immunity, the U.S. needs to vaccinate about 70% to 75% of the population.
Kaiser said it administered 3.4 million COVID-19 vaccines to both members it covers and those that it does not during the first quarter.
It also treated nearly 275,000 COVID-19 patients during the quarter. To put that into context, in 2020, the health system cared for a total of 600,000 COVID-19 patients.
Despite the turbulence in 2020, the behemoth hospital and health system operator was able to post a profit. Many have pointed out that health systems with diversified business offerings, like Kaiser with its insurance arm, have been able to better weather the headwinds spurred by the pandemic.
Health insurers have fared especially well throughout the crisis as it has meant spending less on care as patients put off treatment and check ups either out of fear of exposure to the coronavirus or due to lock downs.
Almost all of the major for-profit hospitals were all able to post profits during the first quarter of this year as cases slow and vaccinations rise.
Still, Kaufman Hall said it expects remaining effects from the pandemic to pressure hospital margins throughout the year. The consultancy estimates margins to be down between 10% and 80%, and revenues down between $53 billion to $122 billion compared to pre-pandemic levels, according to an earlier report.