Acute-care hospital stocks took a hit last week after HCA previewed thirdquarter earnings results that were below expectations.
Nashville-based HCA, the largest hospital chain by revenue, typically has the strongest performance in its peer group, and its quarterly earnings previews are considered a bellwether for the sector. Labor costs were the primary drag on earnings, but investors also focused on another metric: a small increase in the number of uninsured admissions. Samehospital uninsured admissions made up 8% of the total in the third quarter, compared with 7.3% during the same period last year. Managed-care admissions declined to 28.5% of the total, down from 28.9%.