HCA, Nashville, said a surge of uninsured patients in the first three months of 2004, concentrated in its two biggest states, led to an increase in bad-debt expense and a 25% drop in quarterly profits as expected. The company said its biggest states, Florida and Texas, combined for 52% of admissions overall but nearly two-thirds of uninsured admissions. HCA, which previewed first-quarter results last week, said it earned $345 million, or 69 cents per share, for the quarter ended March 31, compared with $469 million, or 90 cents per share, in the year-ago quarter. Revenue was up 12.6% to $5.9 billion, thanks to the April 2003 acquisition of Health Midwest, Kansas City, Mo., and an 8.7% increase in same-facility revenue over the year-ago quarter. Bad-debt expense rose to 11.7% of revenue, up from 8.1% in the year-ago quarter. On a same-facility basis, HCA recorded volume increases of 2.5% in equivalent admissions and 2.3% in emergency room visits. HCA owns or operates 191 hospitals, including seven that are part of 50-50 joint ventures. -- by Vince Galloro
Uninsured in Fla., Texas hit HCA's profits
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