Updated: February 3, 2023
Most hospitals saw a downward trend in median salaries, starting as early as 2018. The COVID-19 pandemic added pressure to those numbers over the last three years.
Operating expenses for hospitals began to climb when the COVID-19 pandemic hit in 2020, most notably among children’s hospitals and teaching hospitals typically affiliated with universities. That ascent has continued, driven in part by unplanned labor costs amid a strained and short-staffed working environment. Some critical-access hospitals began to see relief in 2022.
Days cash on hand received a boost in 2020 as the federal government began funneling relief dollars for the COVID-19 pandemic. The assistance helped keep net margins strong in 2021, with children’s and critical access facilities well exceeding a median margin of 10%. However, most COVID-19 funds ran out by the end of 2021. In 2022, the lack of funding and macroeconomic factors contributed to significantly depressed margins.
Net patient revenue picked up in 2021, as hospitals restarted elective procedures and patients were more comfortable coming in for appointments. Many hospitals exceeded revenue medians recorded before the pandemic. In 2022, however, net patient revenue began to slump, particularly among teaching and critical-access hospitals.
In the latest release of hospital data, about 32% have reported finances for 2022. That includes about 30% of acute-care hospitals and almost 35% of critical-access hospitals. The next update is expected in April.
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Represented as a percentage of total net patient revenue for acute-care hospitals reporting 2021 data
National* totals, by year and hospital type
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