Hospital Costs Soar to a New Record in Just Four Years

Market trading boards are seen at the Australian Securities Exchange in Sydney, Friday, February 9, 2018. ( AAP Image/Ben Rushton) NO ARCHIVING

Health care spending in America reached a stunning $3.5 trillion in 2017, but that’s just the beginning. According to Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, that figure is projected to shoot up to $6 trillion by 2027.

Factors in the increase, according to a study conducted by the UnitedHealth Group, the world’s largest health care company by revenue, include avoidable emergency room visits, physician specialists who charge high rates, and hospital costs for things like blood tests and beds — which have gone up significantly in recent years.

The number of people checking into hospitals decreased by 5% between 2013 and 2017, but over the same period, according to the report, prices for hospital care increased 19%. Physician prices over the same period saw a 10% rise. According to a report, last year from the National Business Group on Health, overall health care costs are expected to rise another 5% this year.

“The annual cost of hospital inpatient services for privately insured individuals surpassed $200 billion in 2018,” according to UnitedHealth, “and is projected to exceed $350 billion in 2029.” Consumers and employers could save an estimated $250 billion over that time period, says the company, if hospital prices slowed to match physician price levels.

Many people would probably prefer to visit their doctor’s office instead of going to a hospital in any case. If you do need a hospital visit, though, you probably want to make sure you’re going to the best one possible. Some states have safer hospitals than others. These are the states with the best and worst hospitals for patient safety.

Hospitals — a place no one ever wants to go, but many will, sooner or later. There were 6,210 hospitals registered in the United States as of 2017, the latest year for which data is available, but they are not evenly spread across the country — these are the counties with the fewest hospitals in America.

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