U.S. hospitals charged payers and consumers a gross $873 billion in 2005 for inpatient care, $59 billion more than in 2004, according to an analysis released by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.
This latest figure also represents a nearly 90% increase from the $462 billion hospitals charged in 1997, AHRQ reported. The average yearly rate of increase over the last several years in the national hospital bill has been 4.5%.
At this rate, researchers estimate that the annual national hospital bill may reach $1 trillion by 2008, the analysis stated.
Hospital charges in the study reflect the amount the hospital billed for the entire hospital stay, and doesnt include physician fees. They also dont represent the negotiated amount that payers actually pay for hospital services.
Medicare paid nearly half of the 2005 national hospital bill, $411 billion, or 47.1%; followed by private insurance, $272 billion, or 31%; and Medicaid, $124 billion, or 14.2%. Uninsured hospital stays accounted for $38 billion, or about 4.4% of the total, and the remaining $28 billion, or 3%, was for other insurers, such as workers compensation, Tricare and other government programs.
The most expensive conditions requiring hospitalization in 2005 included coronary artery disease, pregnancy and delivery, newborn infants, acute myocardial infarction, and congestive heart failure. These conditions made up one-fifth of the national bill. -- by Jennifer Lubell
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