Hospital Charges Rise 90% From 1997 to 2005, Federal Research Shows
Hospital bills 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, AHRQ analyzed data based on the total charges for 39 million hospital stays at facilities that accounted for 90% of discharges in the U.S. The data were adjusted to account for inflation. According to the study, the national hospital bill increased by an average of 4.5% annually over the past several years (Brown, Bloomberg/Orlando Sentinel, 12/13).
The 20 most costly conditions accounted for 52% of hospital charges, and the five costliest conditions accounted for one-fifth of all charges. The five costliest categories were coronary-artery disease, pregnancy and delivery, newborn-infant care, heart attack and congestive heart failure (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's compensation (Bloomberg/Orlando Sentinel, 12/13). Medicare and Medicaid accounted for nearly two-thirds of total hospital charges, the study found (Wall Street Journal, 12/13). Medicare was the top payer, spending $411 billion over the study period, while private insurers paid $272 billion and Medicaid paid $124 billion for hospital-related costs (Bloomberg/Orlando Sentinel, 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 (Wall Street Journal, 12/13). Total hospital charges for strokes increased by 51%, and charges for coronary heart disease increased by 44% between 1997 and 2005, according to the study.
In addition, the study found that hospital charges could reach $1 trillion in 2008 as an aging population seeks care for stroke and heart disease (Bloomberg/Orlando Sentinel, 12/13).