Health Management Associates, Naples, Fla., said an accounting change for bills to uninsured patients hurt its profits in the quarter ended June 30, although one-time gains offset some of the increased bad-debt expense. HMA earned $86.8 million, or 35 cents per share, in its fiscal third quarter, compared with $89.3 million, or 36 cents per share, in the year-ago quarter. Revenue rose 14.3% to $934.3 million. In the nine months ended June 30, HMA posted profits of $265.3 million, or $1.07 per share, compared with $251.7 million, or $1.02 per share, in the year-ago period. Revenue was up 11% to $2.67 billion.
HMA now writes off unpaid bills for uninsured patients after 120 days instead of 150 days. The company said the change added $35.3 million to its third-quarter bad-debt expense, which totaled $147.2 million. Without the change, bad-debt expense as a percentage of revenue would be slightly lower, 7.5% compared with 7.6% in the year-ago quarter. The company recorded one-time gains of $4.1 million from insurance payments for hurricane-related repairs at one of its Florida hospitals and $14.9 million on the sale of a Mississippi hospital and other assets. HMA owns or operates 57 hospitals in 16 states. -- by Vince Galloro