Hospital Charges Increase By 90%

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Hospital Charges

Hospitalbills increased by about 90% over the past decade, from $462 billion in 1997 to$873 billion in 2005, according to a study released Wednesday by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Bloomberg/Orlando Sentinel reports. For the report, AHRQanalyzed data based on the total charges for 39 million hospital stays atfacilities that accounted for 90% of discharges in the U.S. The datawere adjusted to account for inflation.

According to the study, the national hospital bill increased by an average of4.5% annually over the past several years (Brown, Bloomberg/OrlandoSentinel, 12/13). The 20 most costly conditions accounted for 52% ofhospital charges, and the five costliest conditions accounted for one-fifth ofall charges. The five costliest categories were coronary-artery disease,pregnancy and delivery, newborn-infant care, heart attack and congestive heartfailure (Francis, Wall Street Journal, 12/13).


Hospital care for uninsured patients accounted for $38 billion in charges,compared with $28 billion for patients who were insured or received worker'scompensation (Bloomberg/Orlando Sentinel, 12/13). Medicare andMedicaid accounted for nearly two-thirds of total hospital charges, the studyfound (Wall Street Journal, 12/13). Medicare was the top payer,spending $411 billion over the study period, while private insurers paid $272billion and Medicaid paid $124 billion for hospital-related costs (Bloomberg/OrlandoSentinel, 12/13).

AHRQ found triple-digit percentage growth in the hospital charges for blood infections, nonspecific chest pain,respiratory failure, back pain and arthritis over the past decade (WallStreet Journal, 12/13). Total hospital charges for strokes increased by51%, and charges for coronary heart disease increased by 44% between 1997 and2005, according to the study. In addition, the study found that hospitalcharges could reach $1 trillion in 2008 as an aging population seeks care forstroke and heart disease (Bloomberg/Orlando Sentinel, 12/13).

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