Aug 12, 2019

Hospital care is getting more expensive for Americans

Caitlin Owens, author of Vitals
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Data: United Health Group; Chart: Axios Visuals

Hospital prices for inpatient services increased more than the prices paid to doctors providing these services between 2013 and 2017, according to a new data brief by United Health Group.

By the numbers: Hospital prices for inpatient services increased by 19% over this time period, or by 4.5% per year. Physician prices for inpatient services increased by 10%, or 2.5% per year.

Yes, but: Part of insurers' job is to negotiate good rates for their enrollees, raising the question of how hospitals are able to cut such lucrative deals year after year.

  • Insurers say their hands are tied by hospitals with ever-increasing market share, a result of consolidation. This also gives hospitals power over the physicians working in them.

By the numbers: Privately insured patients paid more than $200 billion for hospital inpatient services in 2018, according to the brief.

  • This number is expected to rise to more than $350 billion in 2029.

Go deeper: Hospitals are swimming in cash

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