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U.S. Hospital Bill Approaching $800 Billion

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AHRQ News and Numbers

Release date: September 22, 2006

The nation's hospital bill totaled more than $790 billion in 2004, according to a new report by the Department of Health and Human Services' Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ). The bill represents the total amount charged for 39 million hospital stays that year.

The Federal report also found that:

  • Nearly $500 billion, or 60 percent, of the national hospital bill went to the Federal and State governments for Medicare and Medicaid patients.
  • One-fifth of the national hospital bill was for treatment of five conditions: coronary atherosclerosis, mother's pregnancy and delivery, newborn infant care, acute myocardial infarction, and congestive heart failure. Hospital stays for coronary atherosclerosis incurred the highest charges ($44 billion); mother's pregnancy and delivery had the second-highest charges ($41 billion).
  • Medicare, which provides insurance for the elderly, had pneumonia and osteoarthritis among its top five most-expensive conditions. Medicaid, which covers certain groups of low-income patients, had treatments for pregnant mothers and their deliveries, plus the care of newborn babies, as its two most-expensive types of hospital stays.
  • Medicaid's top five most-expensive conditions also included pneumonia, schizophrenia, depression, and bipolar disorders.
  • Private insurers' biggest bills were for pregnancy and delivery, the care of newborn infants, hardening of the coronary arteries, heart attacks, and back problems.
  • Brain trauma and stroke were among the expensive conditions billed to uninsured patients.

AHRQ, an agency of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, works to improve the quality, safety, efficiency, and effectiveness of health care in the United States. The data in this AHRQ News and Numbers summary were drawn from the Agency's Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project (HCUP)—the Nation's largest source of statistics on hospital inpatient care, regardless of insurance status or type of coverage.

To speak with an AHRQ data expert, contact Bob Isquith at or call (301) 427-1539.

Current as of September 2006


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


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