The most profitable hospitals are often nonprofits

Nonprofit providers dominate the top 10 most profitable hospitals in the nation, occupying seven slots, according to research published in Health Affairs.

Researchers analyzed federal data from nearly 3,000 hospitals and determined profitability based on net revenues from patient care without factoring in such revenue sources as tuition and investments.

The top 10 most profitable hospitals each earned more than $163 million in total profits from patient care services, according to the study. 

In 2013, slightly more than half of the hospitals studied lost money on patient care, according to the researchers. About 1 in 3 hospitals earned up to $1,000 per patient, while approximately 12 percent of hospitals netted more than $1,000 per patient from a combination of sources, including private and government payers, and patients.

Of the top 10 most profitable hospitals, the only for-profit institutions were Medical City Dallas Hospital, coming in at number 5, Swedish Medical Center in Englewood, Colorado, coming in sixth, and Methodist Hospital in San Antonio, at number eight. The research comes soon after an April report from Moody's Investors Service, which found nonprofit hospitals have fully rebounded from the recession, with a median operating margin of 3.4 percent in 2015 compared to an operating cash flow margin of 10.3 percent.

Urbana, Illinois' Carle Foundation Hospital, a nonprofit, came in at number 10, intensifying the state's debate over a law exempting hospitals from taxes, which an appeals court ruled earlier this year was unconstitutional.

"We need to question this whole idea of what not-for-profit means," Urbana Mayor Laurel Prussing told ABC News. "This is a highly profitable business that manages to not pay taxes." Under the law, signed in 2012, the city has lost 11 percent of its assessed tax value, Prussing said.

To learn more:
- read the study abstract
- here's the ABC News article