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U.S. hospital bill is approaching $800 billion

The Nation's hospital bill totaled more than $790 billion in 2004, according to a new report by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. The bill represents the total amount charged for 39 million hospital stays that year.

The Federal report also found that:

  • Federal and State governments were billed for nearly $500 billion, or 60 percent, of the national hospital bill 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 infants, 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).
  • Pneumonia and osteoarthritis were among the top five most expensive conditions for Medicare, which provides insurance for the elderly. Treatments for pregnant mothers and their deliveries, plus care of newborn babies, were the two most expensive types of hospital stays for Medicaid, which covers certain groups of low-income patients.
  • Medicaid's top five most expensive conditions also included pneumonia, schizophrenia, depression, and bipolar disorders.
  • Private insurers' biggest bills were for pregnancy and delivery, care of newborn infants, hardening of the heart arteries, heart attack, and back problems.
  • Brain trauma and stroke were among the expensive conditions billed to uninsured patients.
These and other statistics are presented in The National Hospital Bill: The Most Expensive Conditions, by Payer, 2004, Statistical Brief No. 13, which can be found online at

The data are from the Agency's Hospital Cost and Utilization Project—the Nation's largest source of statistics on hospital inpatient care for all patients regardless of type of insurance or whether they were insured.

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