Profits for Pennsylvania’s Ambulatory Surgery Centers Up Slightly in 2011

Sep 25, 2012

Ambulatory Surgery Centers (ASCs) did slightly better in 2011 than they did in 2010 according to the Pennsylvania Healthcare Cost Containment Council (PHC4). An ASC is a facility that individuals visit for outpatient procedures, rather than going into a hospital. These are procedures that don’t require an overnight stay, such as a colonoscopy or endoscopy.

The financial margins for such facilities rose to 25.19% in fiscal year 2011, compared to 24.99% in fiscal 2010.

“They do perform quite a few procedures and they are an important part of the medical delivery system we have in Pennsylvania," said Gary Tuma, spokesman for PHC4, which released the report.  "A lot of people rely on them, a lot of medical professionals rely on them in sending their patients to such facilities.”

The report points out, the financial, or profit, margins for ASCs cannot be di­rectly compared to the average margins for general care hospitals. That’s because physician owners of surgery centers may receive all or part of their compensation as a dis­tribution of profits, instead of salaries or fees. As a result, their payments are not reported as operating expenses. Physician compensation paid by hospitals is almost exclusively reported as salary or professional service expenses and included in operating costs.

The modest increase in profits for ASC, said, Tuma, may be linked to a very small increase in visits. There were just more than 1 million outpatient visits in FY11, an increase of 0.7% over FY10.

“There’s been a real increase in the number that have sprung up over the last 10, 12 years, but that stabilized this past year, so I think what you’re seeing here is the same stabilization in the number of people that are using them,” said Tuma.  The number of ASCs in the state increased by five to 271 in 2011.

The report is the second of a series of reports on the financial health of medical facilities. The first examined the health of general acute hospitals, the third will focus on non-general acute care hospitals like psychiatric and rehabilitation facilities. That will be released later this year.