UHS generates $251M in profits thanks to help from COVID-19 relief funds

Universal Health Services
Universal Health Services posted $251 million profits in the second quarter of the year thanks to help from federal stimulus funding. (Universal Health Services)

Hospital system Universal Health Services posted profits of $251.9 million during the second quarter of the year as federal relief funds help prop up a financial hole caused by a massive decline of patient volumes.

The system reported late Monday that its net revenue declined by 4.4% to $2.7 billion in the second quarter compared with $2.85 billion for the same time period in 2019. The earnings reflect other hospital systems that have relied on a massive $175 billion relief fund to help recover from losses sparked by COVID-19.

UHS found that the $251.9 million in profits was slightly above the $238.5 million it generated in the second quarter of 2019.

The system said it received $218 million from various government stimulus programs.

“Approximately $157 million of the governmental stimulus program net revenues were attributable to our acute care services and approximately $61 million were attributable to our behavioral health care services,” the system said in a release.

However, the system declined to give an earnings outlook for the rest of the year due to uncertainty caused by COVID-19.

UHS operates 26 acute care hospitals and 330 behavioral health facilities.

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UHS also gave details on its performance in the first half of the year. It generated $394 million in profits for the first half compared with $472 million over the same period in 2019.

“Net revenues decreased 1.8% to $5.559 billion during the first six months of the year compared to $5.660 billion during the comparable period of 2019,” UHS said.

UHS said in the second quarter that hospital volumes were slammed due to the pandemic as hospitals faced the cancellation of elective procedures and low patient volumes coming to the facility.

The system’s acute care hospitals saw adjusted admissions decline by 14.4%, and patient days declined by 9.1% compared with the first half of 2019.

At behavioral health facilities, admissions declined by 8.6% in the first half compared to 2019.

Patient volumes at both acute care and behavioral health facilities saw major declines in April but had gradual improvement in May and June as states started to ease stay-at-home orders and hospitals could resume elective procedures.

“However, many of our acute care and behavioral health facilities are located in states that began experiencing significant increases in COVID-19 infections in June and continuing into July,” UHS said in a release.

But the recent surge of COVID-19 hasn't been as big of a hit to the hospitals as the initial surge back in March. 

UHS Chief Financial Officer Steve Filton said during a call that there was a bit of a step back on patient volumes but "not a dramatic decline as we saw in the March-April time frame."

Filton also touched on the impact of telehealth, which has exploded in use across the healthcare industry after payers gave more flexibility for reimbursement. 

While telehealth has given patients another way to access care, he doubts it will "really replace in any our way our core business of inpatient care."