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Some Statistics on Hospitalizations

By August 4, 2014Commentary

Hospital inpatient services account for about one-third of all health care spending.  An AHRQ brief examines use and cost data from 2003 to 2013, with 2012 and 2013 being projections.  (The fact that the government in July of 2014 has to project data for 2012 and 2013 shows how deficient our data gathering and analysis is.  So much for being able to spot trends and identify problems and solutions in near real-time.)   (AHRQ Stat. Brief)   Between 1997 and 2011, aggregate hospital costs grew 3.6% annually, on an inflation adjusted basis.  Costs means the actual costs for hospitals to deliver their services.  Prices charged for those services have risen at a much faster rate.   In the study time period, the average hospitalization cost went from $9100 to $10,600; a 2% annual rise, similar to what is projected for 2012 and 2013.  Surgical admissions are the highest average cost, and pregnancy the lowest.  Surgical and pregnancy admission costs are growing the fastest as well, although still at a relatively low rate.  The number of admissions, about 37.4 million a year, has shown no growth over the 2003 to 2013 period, although mental health admissions are rising 3 times faster than any other segment.  Length of stay is also relatively flat, at around 4.7 days over the period.  Overall the picture is one of stability in inflation-adjusted costs, number of admissions and length of stay, with only one or two subsegments, like mental health, showing change rates significantly different than the overall one.  Hospital costs are regularly growing faster than inflation, which explains some price increases.

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