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Treating aging baby boomers costs hospitals $56 billion

Research Activities, November 2009

U.S. hospitals spent roughly $56 billion in 2007-16 percent of their overall patient care costs-treating baby boomers aged 55 to 64, according to the latest data from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ). Due to the aging of the large baby boom population, by 2020, the age group over 65 will grow by 18 percent, faster than any other age group. AHRQ's analysis also found that in 2007:

  • Hospitals' costs to treat baby boomers were nearly equal to the older generation of 65- to 74-year-olds, $56 billion and $59 billion respectively. In contrast, baby boomers cost hospitals $10 billion more than the younger generation of patients 45 to 54 years old.
  • The average hospital cost for a baby boomer patient was $11,900 compared with $10,400 for 45- to 54-year-olds.
  • Baby boomers were two to three times more likely than 45- to 54-year-olds to be hospitalized for osteoarthritis, stroke, respiratory failure, irregular heart beat, chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder, blood infections, and congestive heart failure, as well as undergo knee and hip replacements and have heart bypass surgery.
  • About 37 percent of baby boomer patients were covered by public insurance, mainly Medicaid, 52 percent had private insurance, and 6 percent were uninsured.

The findings are based on data in Statistical Brief #79, Hospital Utilization Among Near-Elderly Adults, Ages 55 to 64 Years, 2007 ( The report uses statistics from the 2007 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.

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Page last reviewed November 2009
Internet Citation: Treating aging baby boomers costs hospitals $56 billion: Research Activities, November 2009. November 2009. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD.