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In early 2020, few could have anticipated the drop in utilization spurred by COVID-19; however, a new BHC Health Care Industry Overview issue brief shows that St. Louis hospital service use was already declining prior to the pandemic.


Highlights from this issue brief include:

  • In the past decade, inpatient hospital utilization in the St. Louis region declined. Privately-insured patients saw the steepest drop, with outpatient use also decreasing. Nevertheless, spending climbed each year.

  • Local hospitals remained profitable, earning 33% more operating income in 2018 as revenue grew faster than expenses. Revenue growth in the face of declining utilization suggests higher prices.

  • Since 2011, the uncertainties of health reform and push for value-based payment have driven health systems to expand, acquiring physician practices, hospitals, and other health care facilities.

  • Expansion drove costs higher, making St. Louis hospitals more vulnerable financially when high-margin services were canceled due to the pandemic. Reserves proved inadequate to cover the drop in revenue, resulting in thousands of layoffs and dramatic cuts in spending.

Click here to view the issue brief. To provide feedback, please contact Karen Roth, BHC Director of Research, at or 314-721-7800.



2020 St. Louis Health Care Industry Overview

Item Name Posted By Date Posted
Issue Brief 1: Hospital Finance Link Administration 6/25/2020
Health Care Industry Overview Archive (2005-2019) Link Administration 6/25/2020
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