Cost Increases Incurred By US Hospitals Slows

The costs incurred by U.S. hospitals in 2006 increased by 0.9%, compared with the average annual increase of 4.8% from 1997 through 2006, according to a study released Wednesday by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Bloomberg/Denver Post reports.

Claudia Steiner, a research physician for AHRQ, said the slower rate of increase in 2006 likely reflects pressure from health insurance companies to encourage more outpatient care and negotiate provider discounts. The AHRQ report also found that costs after inflation rose by more than half in 2006 to $329.2 billion, up from $216.3 billion in 1997.

According to Bloomberg/Post, while employer-sponsored health plan enrollment has declined since 2003, enrollment in Medicare Advantage plans has increased to 10.1 million, mostly in health plans that negotiate provider discounts (Goldstein, Bloomberg/Denver Post, 8/27).

Reprinted with permission from kaisernetwork.org. You can view the entire Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report, search the archives, and sign up for email delivery at kaisernetwork.org/email . The Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report is published for kaisernetwork.org, a free service of The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. © 2007 Advisory Board Company and Kaiser Family Foundation. All rights reserved.

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