Sanford Health, an integrated health system based in Sioux Falls, S.D., closed the books on a healthy fiscal 2015 by keeping expenses in check, seeing more patients and adding more members to its health plan.
Sanford's insurance arm covers about 200,000 people. Premium revenue more than doubled in the past year, totaling $426 million in the fiscal year ended June 30. After accounting for the paid medical claims, Sanford's fully insured health plan had a 5% margin.
Overall, Sanford's revenue in 2015 jumped 13% to $3.7 billion, according to audited financial figures (PDF). The system's operating surplus increased 77% to $195 million, resulting in a 5.2% operating margin compared with a 3.3% margin in 2014.
Patient utilization grew the most in the outpatient setting. Sanford's outpatient visits went up 7.6% year over year. Emergency room visits increased 7.4%.
Sanford's inpatient admissions grew more modestly, similar to other health systems across the country. Hospitalizations were up 2.3% in 2015, according to system data (PDF). Sanford owns six general acute-care hospitals and 17 critical access hospitals, along with several other clinics, senior facilities and home-health agencies throughout Minnesota, Nebraska, North Dakota and South Dakota. Sanford also employs roughly 1,400 physicians.
Other health systems that run their own insurance plans—including Geisinger Health System in Danville, Pa., Presbyterian Healthcare Services in Albuquerque, ProMedica in Toledo, Ohio, and Sharp HealthCare in San Diego—have recorded strong hospital and health plan operations so far this year.