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Hospital bills up 90% in a decade

December 13, 2007|From Bloomberg News

U.S. hospital bills almost doubled over a decade and might reach $1 trillion next year as the aging population seeks care for stroke and heart disease, according to federal researchers.

Medicare, the U.S. healthcare program for the elderly and disabled, was the main payer, shelling out $411 billion for hospital bills in the period, according to a report from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. The costs were adjusted for inflation and represent the total amount charged for 39 million hospital stays, agency researchers said Wednesday.

Hospital bills rose about 90% to $873 billion, from $462 billion in 1997, according to the report. Total charges for strokes grew 51%, and those for coronary heart disease rose 44%.

Private insurance paid $272 billion in hospital-related costs, and the government payer Medicaid was responsible for $124 billion, researchers said.

Heart attack was the most expensive reason for hospitalization among the uninsured, researchers said.

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