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U.S. hospital bill is fast approaching $1 trillion

U.S. hospitals charged $873 billion in 2005—a nearly 90 percent increase from the $462 billion charged in 1997—according to a report from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ). The 2005 bill, which is adjusted for inflation, represents the total amount charged for 39 million hospital stays.

The average yearly rate of increase over the last several years in the national hospital bill was 4.5 percent. At this rate, researchers estimate that the annual national hospital bill may reach $1 trillion by 2008.

The AHRQ report also found that:

  • Medicare paid the bulk of the national hospital bill ($411 billion), followed by private insurance ($272 billion) and Medicaid ($124 billion). Uninsured hospital stays accounted for $38 billion in charges. The remaining $28 billion was for other insurers, including Workers' Compensation, TRICARE, Title V, and other government programs.
  • One-fifth of the national hospital bill was for treatment of just five conditions—coronary artery disease ($46 billion), pregnancy and childbirth ($44 billion), newborn infant care ($35 billion), heart attack ($32 billion), and congestive heart failure ($30 billion).
  • For 10 conditions, the growth was greater than the average of all hospital stays:
    • Sepsis—189 percent.
    • Chest pain—181 percent
    • Respiratory failure—171 percent.
    • Back pain—170 percent.
    • Osteoarthritis—165 percent.
    • Irregular heart beat—131 percent.
    • Procedure complications—120 percent.
    • Congestive heart failure—117 percent.
    • Medical device complications—113 percent.
    • Diabetes—97 percent.

The report, The National Hospital Bill: Growth Trends and 2005 Update on the Most Expensive Conditions by Payer, Statistical Brief No. 42 uses statistics from the 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.

To read the report, and for more information, go to

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