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Hospital Outpatient Care Represents More Than 20 Percent of all Ambulatory Care Costs in U.S.

AHRQ News and Numbers, April 20, 2011

AHRQ News and Numbers provides statistical highlights on the use and cost of health services and health insurance in the United States.

Visits to physicians in hospital outpatient departments comprised about 5 percent of all ambulatory physician visits in the United States in 2008, yet accounted for more than 20 percent of the $309 billion spent on ambulatory physician visits during the year, according to the latest News and Numbers from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ).

AHRQ also found that:

  • The average expenditure for a hospital outpatient physician visit was $1,275, while a physician office visit averaged $199. The latter represents 91 percent of all ambulatory physician visits in 2008.
  • The cost of a doctor visit in a hospital emergency department averaged $922. This type of physician visit accounted for 4 percent of all ambulatory visits, but represented 14 percent of the total amount spent on ambulatory physician care.
  • Patients receiving physician hospital outpatient care were about 7 times more likely to have surgery than patients seen at the doctor's office and 4 times more likely to have surgery than patients with emergency department visits. When no surgery was involved, the average expense per visit for physician care was 44 percent higher at the emergency department ($821) than at the hospital outpatient department ($569).

The data in this AHRQ News and Numbers summary are taken from the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey (MEPS), a detailed source of information on the health services used by Americans, the frequency with which they are used, the cost of those services, and how they are paid. For more information, go to Statistical Brief #318: Expenses and Characteristics of Physician Visits in Different Ambulatory Care Settings, 2008.

For other information, contact Bob Isquith at Bob.Isquith@ahrq.hhs.gov or call (301) 427-1539.

Current as of April 2011
Internet Citation: Hospital Outpatient Care Represents More Than 20 Percent of all Ambulatory Care Costs in U.S.: AHRQ News and Numbers, April 20, 2011. April 2011. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD. http://archive.ahrq.gov/news/newsroom/news-and-numbers/042011.html

 

The information on this page is archived and provided for reference purposes only.

 

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