Hospital Prices Drive Health Care Costs

Inpatient Hospital prices increased 8.2% per year from 2008 to 2010 with wide variation in price levels and growth rates across states and localities. The study published in the March issue of the American Journal of Managed Care (AJMC) was conducted by researchers at America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP).

Taking into account the complexity of treatment and the number of procedures performed, the authors estimate that 1.3% to 1.9% of this increase could be attributed to increased intensity per admission. Thus intensity-adjusted price increases ranged from 6.2% to 6.8% annually during this period.

The price for a spinal fusion increased the most (15.2% per year) from 2008 to 2010. That was followed by bronchitis and asthma treatment (10.3% per year) and uterine laparoscopic procedure for non-malignancy (9.8% per year).

A recent report from the Health Care Cost Institute found that despite some increases in utilization, spending growth was driven primarily by increases in the prices paid. Last year, the S&P Healthcare Economic Composite Index showed the average per capita cost of hospital services in the commercial market had increased by nearly 8%.

Data show that increasing provider consolidation is one contributor to rising hospital prices. When hospitals consolidate, merging with other hospitals or buying up physician practices, they have greater negotiating strength and competition is limited. The result is higher prices for services, higher costs for patients, and often no improvement in the quality of care delivered. AHIP recently filed an amicus brief on the affect of hospital consolidation in the Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit in support of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). For more information, visit www.ahip.org.

Last Updated 09/16/2020

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