Despite a recent slowdown in the rise of patient-care costs, the overall cost for inpatient hospital stays has nearly doubled over the past nine years, according to new data from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.
Patient-care costs in U.S. hospitals rose just under 1% between 2005 and 2006, much slower than the average 5.3% per year between 1997 and 2005, the AHRQ found in its latest News and Numbers study. The data point to rapid growth in the adoption of managed-care plans and the shift to outpatient care as reasons for the slowdown in the growth in the use of inpatient care.
However, over the nine-year period from 1997 to 2006, the overall cost for hospital stays grew 85% to $329 billion from $177 billion. Nearly half the increase in overall costs can be attributed to increased use of procedures, technologies and other interventions in hospitals, the analysis found. Additionally, one-third of the cost increases were because of inflation, and 16% resulted from an increase in the number of patients because of population growth.
The News and Numbers summary is based on data in HCUP Facts and Figures, 2006, which highlights the latest data from the 2006 Nationwide Inpatient Sample, a part of AHRQs Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project. -- by Jennifer Lubell