AHRQ asks ‘Who’s paying for rising health costs?’

Andrew Van Dam

About Andrew Van Dam

Andrew Van Dam of The Wall Street Journal previously worked at the AHCJ offices while earning his master’s degree at the Missouri School of Journalism.

The latest statistics brief out of the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality address what researchers called the “growing burden of hospital-based medical care expenses on the government, tax payers, consumers, and employers.” In this brief, they’re looking to figure out where to put the blame for those in-patient cost jumps that occurred between 2001 and 2007 and thus divided the increases into four categories: Medicare, Medicaid, private insurance and payments from those without insurance.

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The numbers hold a few interesting subplots, any one of which would benefit from further exploration. Here are a few:

  • When you compare 2001 and 2007, private insurance paid for slightly fewer stays, while stays for Medicare and Medicaid were up,respectively, by 20.1 and 29.9 percent.
  • “From 2001 to 2007, the number of stays with a principal diagnosis of blood infection nearly doubled (97.1 percent; 675,400 stays in 2007).”
  • The cost of a hospitalization for intestinal infection jumped 148 percent, yet hospital stays for such infections were up only 69.5 percent.
  • “For four of the top ten conditions—blood infection, acute kidney failure, respiratory insufficiency, arrest, or failure, and skin and subcutaneous skin infections—the uninsured demonstrated greater increases in growth in total costs and number of hospital stays than the other three payer groups.”
  • Private insurance paid 55.7 more for C-section-related hospital stays over the study period, while Medicaid costs increased 95.1 percent for the same sort of visits.

Check pages seven through 10 for summary tables, including overall numbers and two tables of the ten conditions for which costs are increasing most rapidly.

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2 thoughts on “AHRQ asks ‘Who’s paying for rising health costs?’

  1. Pingback: What Will ‘Grandfathering’ Mean? | Kaiser Permanente Health Insurance Help

  2. Pingback: What Will ‘Grandfathering’ Mean? | Go HealthReform

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