HCA income up, but bad debt still significant

HCA turned in a nice performance for the third quarter, posting its first quarterly growth in income since going private last year, but like its peers, it's still struggling with unpaid patient bills. The hospital chain just reported that net income grew 25 percent in the third quarter of this year, to $300 million. (This number was boosted by $316 million in income from its sale of two Swiss facilities.) Meanwhile, revenues climbed 5.7 percent, to $6.57 billion, a rise HCA attributed to getting better contracts in place with private and government health plans.

At the same time, however, it calculated that bad debt would eat 10.9 percent of this year's revenues--down from 11.8 percent for the previous quarter, but still significant. Analysts said that HCA faces higher numbers of medically-indigent patients than some competitors, given that 44 percent of its hospitals are in Florida and Texas, where there are more uninsured patients than elsewhere.

To learn more about HCA's financial position:
- read this piece in The Tennessean

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