Hospitals’ mounting financial challenges putting care access at risk: AHA

Hospital's costs have increased in recent years, which could lead to challenges in patient care access, according to an April 20 report from the American Hospital Association. 

"Rising costs for drugs, supplies, and labor coupled with sicker patients, longer hospital stays and government reimbursement rates that do not come close to covering the costs of caring for patients have created a dire situation for hospitals and health systems, AHA President and CEO Rick Pollack said in a news release. "This is not just a financial problem, it is an access problem. When health care providers cannot afford the tools and teams they need to care for patients, they will be forced to make hard choices and the people who will be impacted the most are patients. We can’t let that happen. Congress and others must act to preserve the care our nation needs and depends on."

Five things to know:

1. Between 2019 and 2022, overall hospital costs grew 17.5 percent, outpacing the 7.5 percent uptick in Medicare reimbursements during the same period.

2. Labor costs also rose 20.8 percent between 2019 and 2022, largely due to reliance on contract staffing. For contract labor expenses, that figure rose 258 percent between 2019 and 2022.

3. Median drug prices exceed $200,000 for the first time in history, and price increases for current drugs have been outpacing inflation rates. This has led to a 19.7 percent jump in drug costs per patient between 2019 and 2022.

4. Hospital supply costs per patient rose 18.5 percent between 2019 and 2022. There was significant growth for hospital emergency service supply costs during that same time — nearly 33 percent.

5. Burdens associated with insurance-related administrative tasks have led to rising costs. About 75 percent of nurses reported an increase in insurer-required administrative tasks over the last five years, and about 90 percent say the burdens negatively impacted patient clinical outcomes.

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