The costs of inpatient community hospital stays grew by 4.4 percent annually between 1997 and 2008, according to data from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality's Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project. Three components contributed to this growth. Intensity of services (or cost per stay) represents 71 percent; population growth represents 24 percent; and an increase in the number of discharges per person represents 5 percent of the growth.
From 1997 to 2009, the aggregate cost of stays for non-elderly patients (4.4 percent) grew more quickly than costs for elderly patients (3.1 percent). The three conditions with the fastest-growing costs among the non-elderly were septicemia (13.1 percent annually), osteoarthritis (12.7 percent annually), and spondylosis and other back problems (8.6 percent annually). The total cost for all non-elderly stays was $207.9 billion.
Among the elderly, the same three conditions charted the fastest growing costs: septicemia (10.1 percent average annual growth), spondylosis and other back problems (9.2 percent annually) and osteoarthritis (6.7 percent annually). The total cost for all elderly patient stays was $153.9 billion.
For more information, go to www.hcup-us.ahrq.gov.