For that reason, analysts had expected better numbers from HCA, and acknowledged that its lackluster results suggest that weak volume is likely to be an industry trend as hospitals head into earnings season.
Unlike its Naples, Fla.-based peer, however, HCA reaffirmed its earlier guidance and did not lower its financial targets for 2013. The company will report final results May 2.
Nashville-based HCA said in a news release that it expects to report income of $639 million for the first quarter, compared with $963 million during the same period last year. It added that results reflect losses it incurred from the sales of facilities as well as debt retirement.
But it also highlighted that same-facility admissions were largely flat, increasing just 0.1% compared with a 3.2% increase in the first quarter of last year. The chain also reported that it performed 2.6% fewer inpatient surgeries and 4.3% fewer outpatient procedures compared with the first quarter of 2012.
The challenges were felt across its entire portfolio of hospitals, and the second half of the quarter was worse than the first. The company also experienced a 4.6% decrease in the number of patients with lucrative commercial insurance and managed-care plans.
Follow Beth Kutscher on Twitter: @MHbkutscher