Hospital charges surpass the trillion dollar mark

Research Activities, May 2011, No. 369

U.S. community hospitals billed insurance companies and Federal and State programs $1.2 trillion in 2008 for inpatient care, according to the latest News and Numbers from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. This represents a 28 percent increase over the $900 billion, adjusted for inflation, billed in 2004. In particular, in 2008:

  • Total charges billed to Medicare ($534 billion) and Medicaid ($159 billion) accounted for about 60 percent of all charges in 2008. Private insurers were charged $373 billion, or 32 percent of the total. The uninsured accounted for $48 billion, or 5 percent of the national bill.
  • One-fifth of Medicare's total bill ($107.5 billion) was for treatment of heart disease, heart failure, heart attack, heart rhythm disorders, stroke, or heart valve disorders.
  • Medicaid and private insurers saw the largest bills for pregnancy and childbirth ($22 billion and $30 billion, respectively) and care of newborn infants ($19 billion and $21 billion, respectively).
  • Among the uninsured, heart attack was the most expensive reason for hospitalization ($2.4 billion). Three of the top 20 most expensive reasons for hospitalizations for the uninsured involved head injuries, leg fracture, and internal injuries ($2.9 billion).

This AHRQ News and Numbers is based on data in The National Bill: The Most Expensive Conditions by Payer, 2008 ( The report uses data from the 2008 Nationwide Inpatient Sample, a database of hospital inpatient stays in all short-term, non-Federal hospitals. The data are drawn from hospitals that comprise 95 percent of all discharges in the United States and include 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 or call (301) 427-1539.

Current as of May 2011
Internet Citation: Hospital charges surpass the trillion dollar mark: Research Activities, May 2011, No. 369. May 2011. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD.