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Many Burn Victims Are Old or Poor

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AHRQ News and Numbers

Release date: February 8, 2006

More than $726 million—or nearly 45 percent of the more than $1.6 billion that the Nation's hospitals charge to treat burn victims—is billed to Medicare or Medicaid, government programs for the elderly and poor, respectively, according to the Department of Health and Human Services' Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ).

  • The average hospital bill for a burn victim is nearly $48,000 but the charge varies by payer. For Medicare patients, the average charge is $59,600; for Medicaid patients it is $47,400; for burn victims with private insurance the average charge is $41,400; and the average charge for uninsured burn victims is $34,900.
  • Hospitals bill private health insurers for 29 percent of the nearly 33,000 hospitalizations of burn victims, and 11 percent of charges are to uninsured burn victims.
  • About 3.7 percent of all burn victims die while in the hospital, but among those age 65 and older, the death rate climbs to more than 12 percent.
  • More than two of every three hospitalized burn victims are men.
  • The average burn victim is hospitalized about 9 days—twice the average length of stay for all hospital patients.

These statistics are for 2003, the latest year for which data are currently available. They do not include fees charged by physicians.

This information was produced using HCUPnet, an online query system that provides access to health statistics and information on hospital stays from AHRQ's Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project (HCUP). This project comprises a family of health care databases and related software tools developed through a Federal-State-industry partnership and sponsored by AHRQ. HCUP includes the largest set of publicly available databases on all patients in the United States, regardless of type of insurance or whether the patients had insurance. HCUPnet can be accessed at

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


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


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