Post-COVID Trends in Hospital Financial Performance: Updated Data from California Paint an Improved but Challenging Picture for Hospitals and Commercially Insured Patients 


The COVID-19 pandemic caused major disruptions to the operation and financing of US acute care hospitals. Previous research has documented early effects of the COVID pandemic on hospital financial performance. This paper updates the literature with current data on utilization and financial performance for a large sample of California hospitals covering the period 2017 through the end of 2022 and the first quarter of 2023. The data show that, while hospital overall utilization has largely returned to pre-COVID levels, patient mix has changed and financial performance still lags. Hospital net income margins remain below pre-COVID levels which could trigger price increases to commercially insured patients to offset continuing post-COVID financial shortfalls.

The full study can be viewed at Health Affairs Scholar.

Melnick, G., & Maerki, S. (2023). Post-COVID trends in hospital financial performance: updated data from California paint an improved but challenging picture for hospitals and commercially insured patients. Health Affairs Scholar, qxad039.

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