Costs for Hospital Stays

HCUP Statistical Brief #181

In 2012, health care expenditures in the United States accounted for more than 17 percent of the Gross Domestic Product. Although only 7 percent of the civilian noninstitutionalized population in the United States had an inpatient hospital stay in 2011, the spending associated with those stays accounted for 29 percent of all health care expenses, making hospitalization one of the most expensive types of health care treatments.

Costs for Hospital Stays in the United States, a statistical brief from the Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project, presents data on the costs of hospital stays in the United States in 2012.


  • Of the $377.5 billion aggregate hospital inpatient costs in 2012, 46 percent was for Medicare-covered stays and 16 percent was for Medicaid-covered stays. Thus, patients covered by government payers accounted for at least 62 percent of all hospital costs.
  • More than half of Medicare-covered and uninsured stays were medical (55 percent and 54 percent, respectively). More than half of stays covered by private insurance were surgical (52 percent).
  • Maternal and neonatal stays constituted 27 percent of costs for Medicaid, 15 percent of costs for private insurers, and 4 percent of costs for uninsured patients.
  • Mean hospital costs in 2012 were highest for surgical stays ($21,200)—2.5 times the mean costs for medical stays ($8,500) and nearly five times the mean costs for maternal and neonatal stays ($4,300).
  • Patients aged 45-64 and 65-84 years had the highest mean hospital costs in 2012 ($12,900 and $13,000, respectively), but patients under age 18 had the highest growth in mean costs between 2008 and 2012 (more than 6 percent annually).
  • Among payers of hospital stays, Medicare had the highest mean hospital costs in 2012 ($12,200), but between 2008 and 2012 mean Medicare costs grew at the lowest annual rate (0.9 percent).
  • Average annual growth in aggregate hospital costs slowed from 5.2 percent in the 2003-2008 time period to 2.1 percent in the 2008-2012 time period.

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Page last reviewed October 2014
Internet Citation: Costs for Hospital Stays : HCUP Statistical Brief #181. October 2014. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD.