(Story updated at 12:48 p.m. ET)
HCA posted flat earnings in its second quarter as growth in admissions and emergency room visits slowed to a meager 1% at the nation's largest hospital chain.
Analysts have noted that quarterly admission growth across the nation's hospitals is now regularly coming in at 1%-2%, about half that of two years ago before a topping out of newly insured under the Affordable Care Act and related Medicaid expansions.
Jefferies & Co. healthcare analyst Brian Tanquilut last week said that rate of growth is becoming "the new normal."
HCA felt some of that sting in the second quarter.
The company reported net income of $795 million on revenue of $10.7 billion in the second quarter compared with net income of $791 million on revenue of $10.3 billion in the year-earlier period.
During an earnings call Tuesday, CEO Milton Johnson said HCA saw fewer patients with individual marketplace and managed care coverage in the quarter vs. prior year period.
Across HCA's 170 hospitals, admissions of patients with exchange plans fell 4% to 12,800 from 13,400 a year ago. That reflects a commensurate decline in enrollment in HCA's 14 major markets, said CFO Bill Rutherford.
Facing increased competition from independent surgery centers in its markets, HCA saw a 1% decline in outpatient surgeries during the quarter and flat inpatient surgery cases, the company noted.
Johnson said eight hospitals acquired or being acquired so far this year will add annual revenue of about $1.6 billion.
They are mainly "tuck in" acquisitions in markets where HCA already has a strong presence, including Houston, Dallas-Fort Worth and San Antonio, he said.
HCA, however, will be entering its first entirely new market since 2003 with the $710 million acquisition of Memorial University Medical Center in Savannah, Ga., announced in April.