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The balanced relationship between COVID-19 and non-coronavirus utilization tipped during the second quarter, leading some of the largest health insurance companies to raise profit forecasts while health systems bemoaned the negative impact on their finances.

Health systems attributed the slump in inpatient services to staff shortages that limited procedures, telemedicine alternatives, and fewer acute COVID-19 patients. Insurers credited the decline to patients deferring care due to rising inflation, the availability of more cost-efficient value-based care payment arrangements, and care shifting from hospitals to less expensive outpatient sites.

“There’s not really a long-term view on how to get volumes up,” said Bill Dixon, a managing director at consulting firm Pearl Meyer. “There are just so many things that are uncertain right now that I don’t know that a lot of health systems yet know how to work their way through it, other than getting through each day and doing the best they can.”

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