Average price of hospital ER visits jumped 135% & 4 other insurance report findings

The average price of hospital emergency room visits climbed substantially over a decade, leaving patients increasingly on the hook for their care expenses, according to a new report.

The Health Care Cost Institute — a nonprofit research institute funded partially by four health insurance companies — examined its commercial claims database, which represents Americans under age 65 with employer-sponsored health plans.

The institute used data from 2008-17 to analyze the average price of hospital ER visits; the average out-of-pocket amount paid for the service; and hospital ER use.

Five findings from the report:

1. Between 2008 and 2017, the average price of hospital ER visits rose 135 percent, from $393 to $924.

2. The average price of hospital ER visits increased at all severity levels during the studied period. The average price for higher severity visits, indicating the most complex cases, climbed faster than for lower severity visits.

3. The average share of out-of-pocket spending for hospital ER visits increased 241 percent between 2008 and 2017, from $70 to $239.

4. Overall hospital ER use remained relatively unchanged during the studied period, but the use of current procedural terminology codes for high severity hospital ER visits increased.

5. The share of hospital ER visits with the highest severity code jumped from 17 percent in 2008 to 27 percent in 2007.


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