According to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), in 2004, Americans spent $790 billion on hospital care, more than half of which was billed to Medicare and Medicaid patients. Hospital visits account for 60 percent of all U.S. healthcare spending. The priciest procedure was coronary atherosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries--spending on the disease totaled $44 billion. Diseases that contribute to the condition include diabetes, obesity, and high cholesterol. Pregnancy and infant delivery costs came in second at $41 billion, and care for newborns was the third highest cost at $34 billion. One American Hospital Association analyst pointed out that "only $470 billion was actually paid to hospitals (for services provided)," meaning that there's quite a gap between what hospitals charge and what they're actually paid.
To learn more about the AHRQ's findings:
- read the Washington Times article