Trends in Hospital Inpatient Stays

HCUP Statistical Brief, No. 225

As a large component that accounts for one-third of health care expenditures in the United States, hospital inpatient care has experienced changes in utilization and costs over the past decade. Factors including general population growth, the aging baby boomer generation, and the rising prevalence of chronic disease suggest that demand for hospital care will only increase.

Trends in Hospital Inpatient Stays in the United States, a statistical brief from the Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project, presents data on trends in national hospital utilization and costs from 2005 to 2014, as well as the most common diagnoses for hospital inpatient stays during these years. Trends in the number of inpatient stays over the 10-year period are provided by hospitalization type (maternal, neonatal, mental health, injury, surgical, and medical). The change in inpatient stays and cost per stay from 2005 to 2014 is broken down by select patient characteristics. Comparisons are provided for the population rates of hospital stays by age group, sex, and community-level income (median household income of patient's ZIP Code), as well as the distribution of hospital stays by expected payer and hospitalization type in 2005 and 2014.

However, growing efforts to reduce unnecessary hospitalizations, greater use of chronic disease management programs, and a shift toward outpatient treatment may result in a decrease in hospital stays.

Highlights of Trends in Hospital Inpatient Stays in the United States:

  • Between 2005 and 2014, the inflation-adjusted mean cost per inpatient stay increased by 12.7 percent, from $9,500 to $10,900.
  • Inflation-adjusted cost per stay for patients covered by private insurance or Medicaid increased 16-18 percent. Cost per stay for Medicare-covered patients and the uninsured changed minimally.
  • The proportion of Medicaid-covered inpatient stays increased by 15.7 percent, whereas the proportion paid by private insurance and that were uninsured decreased by 12.5 and 13.0 percent, respectively.
  • Mental health/substance use accounted for nearly 6 percent of all inpatient stays in 2014, up 20.1 percent from 2005.
  • Between 2005 and 2014, septicemia and osteoarthritis became two of the five most common reasons for inpatient stays. Septicemia hospital stays almost tripled.
  • Nonspecific chest pain and coronary atherosclerosis decreased by more than 60 percent from 2005 to 2014, falling off the list of top 10 reasons for hospitalization.

Select to read Trends in Hospital Inpatient Stays in the United States.

Page last reviewed July 2017
Page originally created June 2017
Internet Citation: Trends in Hospital Inpatient Stays. Content last reviewed July 2017. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD.