Financial pressure on health care facilities could threaten access to care

The COVID-19 vaccine will continue to affect the financial situation of health care facilities through 2021.

The COVID-19 pandemic’s continued financial impact on hospitals and health care systems could jeopardize their ability to care for their patients during the pandemic.

According to a news release, an analysis performed by Kaufman, Hall & Associates, LLC and released by the American Hospital Association (AHA) says that the financial impact of the pandemic is expected to continue through 2021 with a drop of between $53 billion and $122 billion in total hospital revenue. This could lead to a slowdown in vaccine distribution, continued burnout stressors amongst front-line caregivers, and diminished access to care.

“When we talk about the historic financial challenges hospitals face, it’s about more than dollars and cents, it’s really about making sure hospitals and health systems have the resources needed to provide essential services for their patients and communities,” Rick Pollack, AHA president and CEO, says in the release. “During the pandemic, people have put off needed care, in some cases to the detriment of their health. In addition, the costs of labor and supplies have increased, adding to financial stress. Vaccines give us hope that the end is in sight, but hospitals need additional support to continue to provide access to care and to help get as many vaccine shots into arms quickly.”

The analysis also found that hospitals and health systems have also seen an increase in expenses including:

  • Drug expenses per adjusted discharge are up by 17 percent
  • Purchased service expenses per adjusted discharge are up by 16 percent
  • Labor expenses per adjusted discharge are up 14 percent
  • Supply expenses per adjusted discharge are up 13 percent

The AHA reported last summer that a spike in COVID-19 cases put pressure on staff and resources while a decline in con-COVID-19 hospitalizations sharply lowered revenues which could lead to estimated total losses of $323.1 billion through 2020.