Top U.S. “Non-Profit” Hospitals & CEOs Racked Up Huge Pandemic Profits

Top U.S. “Non-Profit” Hospitals & CEOs Racked Up Huge Pandemic Profits

The top 20 hospitals pocketed $23 billion in Covid-aid from taxpayers. They profited from the pandemic while ignoring price transparency rules. Patient costs soared while life expectancy plummeted.

By Adam Andrzejewski of OpenTheBooks substack auditors investigated America’s healthcare system and found so-called “non-profit” hospitals and their CEOs are getting richer while the American people are getting sicker and poorer.


The 20 largest non-profit hospitals in the country continued making massive profits while their cumulative net assets soared to $324.3 billion in 2021 from $200.6 billion in 2018. The year 2021 is the latest year available for cross-comparison purposes.

Those hospital systems received congressional Covid bailouts of $23 billion and only two providers partially paid their Covid bailout back.

Meanwhile, hospital executives racked up Wall Street-sized compensation packages which frequently exceeded $10 million per year. For example, the CEO at Ascension Healthcare based in St. Louis, Missouri made $13 million in 2021 – with three-year pay exceeding $22 million.

Furthermore, American life expectancy during this period sharply declined by a staggering 2.5 years from 2019 through 2022. While “comparable country averages” rebounded from a Covid-related drop in 2021, the U.S. continued declining in life expectancy.

Yet, the cost of health care is still astronomically high, as the average family paid $22,463 in health insurance premiums in 2022. That does not include out-of-pocket costs like co-pays and deductibles, which can be thousands more.

This has led to medical debt for about 100 million Americans.

In 2020, the Trump administration issued, and the Biden administration finalized (January 2021) a healthcare transparency rule – to spur market competition and inform patients.

Yet, two years after the rule took effect, an independent audit found that nearly three-quarters of hospitals in the country were not complying— flouting the mandate that prices be posted clearly and comprehensively.

GRAPHIC: CARES Act and ARPA provided big bailouts for wealthy non-profit hospitals during the Covid-pandemic.

Big Numbers

The 20 largest non-profit hospital systems saw their combined net assets soar 62 percent, or $124 billion, in the three years to 2021. You — the U.S. taxpayer — funded rocket ride. Examples:

  • The world-famous Mayo Clinic: Astounding 92 percent jump to $17.7 billion in 2021 from $9.2 billion in 2018.
  • Cleveland Clinic Health System: Up 60 percent to $15.6 billion in 2021.
  • Intermountain Healthcare: Up 63 percent to $11.6 billion. Tellingly, Colorado Governor Jared Polis had earlier cited Colorado hospitals for ‘non-profit profiteering.’
  • Northwestern Medicine: Up 43 percent to 11.9 billion.
  • Indiana University Health System: Up 47 percent to $10.3 billion from $7 billion in 2018.

Yet, not one of these systems complied fully with U.S. government price transparency rules, according to a key health care watchdog.

Crucial Quote

“This blatant obfuscation of prices and flouting of the rule demonstrates that implementation and enforcement efforts must be rigorously examined and markedly strengthened to improve compliance, enable technology innovators to parse the pricing data, and empower American consumers with upfront prices,” Patient Rights Advocate (PRA), in its February 2023 report.

PRA, a nonprofit fighting for systemwide healthcare price transparency, reviewed the websites of 2,000 U.S. hospitals, focusing on the nations’ largest health systems. In February 2023, the group found that under 25-percent were in complete compliance. In August 2022, PRA found only 16-percent of hospitals were compliant.

Yet only four hospitals have been fined by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid – the federal agency responsible for creating and enforcing health and safety guidelines. CMS fined two in June 2022 and two more in April 2023.


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