Rates charged by hospitals have soared, study finds

The rates hospitals charge for care, including inpatient, outpatient and emergency services, have skyrocketed, according to a new study published in Health Affairs.

Authored by Thomas Selden, PhD, a director of research at the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, the analysis looked at data from the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey to determine the differences between public and private hospital payment rates, as well as hospital charges.

The analysis found dramatic growth in hospital charges, which rose from three to five times Medicare payment rates by 2016.

For example, emergency department charges rose to about 555 percent of Medicare payment rates in 2016, up from about 225 percent of Medicare payment rates in 1996. Inpatient charges rose from about 175 percent of the Medicare payment rates in 1996, to about 350 percent. Outpatient charges also grew during the time period, from about 225 percent of Medicare payment rates to nearly 375 percent, according to the study.

The same study also found that the gap between what private and government insurers pay hospitals widened between 2000 and 2012. However, that gap narrowed between 2012 and 2016. 

Access the full study here.

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