Out-of-pocket payments by patients, although among the smallest sources of total U.S. hospital revenue at $29.2 billion in 2003, or about 5.4% of the total, recorded the highest growth rate, 9.9%, according to U.S. Census Bureau data. By comparison, patient payments represented about 5.2%, or $26.6 billion, of total 2002 hospital revenue. Private insurers paid the largest portion of hospital revenue in 2003, $203.6 billion, and had the second-highest growth rate, 8.3%. Medicare payments were the slowest-growing source of hospital revenue in 2003, rising 2.3% to $166.6 billion. Medicaid payments increased 7% to $64.9 billion, and payments by other government programs were up 6.4% to $28.8 billion.
Revenue for all U.S. hospitals rose 5.7% to $536.3 billion in 2003. Acute-care hospital revenue, specifically, grew 5.6% to $502.3 billion in 2003, and specialty hospital revenue -- excluding psychiatric and substance abuse hospitals -- climbed 14.6% to $18.8 billion, according to the Census Bureau data. Total revenue at physicians' offices rose 8.6% to $256.4 billion. -- by Paul Barr