A preliminary analysis of not-for-profit hospitals' audited financial statements for fiscal 2004 showed a significant improvement in median margin, utilization and debt-service ratio compared with fiscal 2003, Moody's Investors Service said. The debt-rating agency said the preliminary analysis covered 233 stand-alone hospitals and single-state health systems representing about 42% of the portfolio of hospital debt that it rates. The median operating margin for the hospitals and systems was 2.1%, up from 1.1% in fiscal 2003. Median operating expenses grew 8.15% but the growth in median operating revenue was higher, 8.83%. Admissions, patient days, emergency visits and overall outpatient visits showed year-over-year increases ranging from 1.78% to 2.51%. The number of outpatient surgeries was flat. Although median total debt increased, the median balance sheet improved enough to yield better debt-service ratios. The full report is expected this summer, Moody's said. -- by Vince Galloro
Hospital finances appear much better in 2004: Moody's
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