We sometimes forget—in the midst of the Second Great Depression, with the long-term decline in traditional manufacturing in the United States—that capitalists are always developing new kinds of commodity production, and therefore new sources of profits.
The Hospital Corporation of America (HCA), the largest private operator of health care facilities in the world, is a good example.
profits at the health care industry giant HCA, which controls 163 hospitals from New Hampshire to California, have soared, far outpacing those of most of its competitors.
The big winners have been three private equity firms — including Bain Capital, co-founded by Mitt Romney, the Republican presidential candidate — that bought HCA in late 2006.
HCA’s robust profit growth has raised the value of the firms’ holdings to nearly three and a half times their initial investment in the $33 billion deal.
The financial performance has been so impressive that HCA has become a model for the industry. Its success inspired 35 buyouts of hospitals or chains of facilities in the last two and a half years by private equity firms eager to repeat that windfall. . .
Among the secrets to HCA’s success: It figured out how to get more revenue from private insurance companies, patients and Medicare by billing much more aggressively for its services than ever before; it found ways to reduce emergency room overcrowding and expenses; and it experimented with new ways to reduce the cost of its medical staff, a move that sometimes led to conflicts with doctors and nurses over concerns about patient care.
Many traditional manufacturing jobs have been outsourced from the United States. And unemployment remains high in the midst of the Second Great Depression. But individual capitalists, like the board of directors of HCA, and capitalist corporations as a whole, are producing commodities, appropriating the surplus-value of workers, and realizing record profits.
Capitalism’s health, in that sense, couldn’t be better.