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Patients' Hospital Bills Jumped $70 Billion in Just One Year

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AHRQ News and Numbers

Release date: September 17, 2008

Hospital charges—what patients are billed for their rooms, nursing care, diagnostic tests, and other services—jumped from $873 billion in 2005 to $943 billion in 2006, according to the latest News and Numbers from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ).

The steep increase occurred even though hospital admissions increased only slightly, from 39.2 million to 39.5 million. Insured patients and their health plans pay less than the full charge, but uninsured patients are expected to pay the full amount.

Between 2005 and 2006, hospital charges increased by:

  • $38 billion to $44 billion—15 percent for people with no insurance.
  • $124 billion to $135 billion—9 percent for Medicaid patients.
  • $411 billion to $444 billion—8 percent for Medicare patients.
  • $272 billion to $287 billion—6 percent for patients with private insurance.

This AHRQ News and Numbers is based on data from HCUP Statistical Brief #59: The National Bill: The Most Expensive Conditions by Payer, 2006. The report uses statistics from the 2006 Nationwide Inpatient Sample, a database of hospital inpatient stays that is nationally representative of inpatient stays in all short-term, non-Federal hospitals. The data are drawn from hospitals that comprise 90 percent of all discharges in the United States and include all patients, regardless of insurance type, as well as the uninsured.

For other information, or to speak with an AHRQ data expert, please contact Bob Isquith at, (301) 427-1539.

Current as of September 2008


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