Hospital Bill Approaching $800 Billion in 2004

The federal report also found that nearly $500 billion, or 60 percent, of the national hospital bill went to the federal and state governments 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).

Medicare, which provides insurance for the elderly, had pneumonia and osteoarthritis among its top five most expensive conditions. Medicaid, which covers certain groups of low-income patients, had treatments for pregnant mothers and their deliveries, plus care of newborn babies, as its two most expensive types of hospital stays. 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 uninsured patients.

Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, a part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, works to improve the quality, safety, efficiency and effectiveness of health care in the United States. The data are from the agency’s Healthcare 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.; Source: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ)