A handful of high-cost and high-volume conditions helped drive the national hospital bill up 7% in 2005, to $873 billion, a record high and nearly double 1997 spending adjusted for inflation, a federal agency reported. The report, from the federal Agency for Health Care Research and Quality, analyzed figures from the most recent year available and found in part that triple-digit percentage growth in the amount charged for blood infections, nonspecific chest pain, respiratory failure, back pain and arthritis over the past decade contributed to the increase.
The 20 costliest conditions accounted for 52% of hospital charges, and the five costliest accounted for a fifth of all charges. Medicare and Medicaid, the government health plans for the elderly, disabled and poor, accounted for nearly two-thirds of total charges. The five costliest categories were coronary-artery disease, pregnancy and delivery, newborn-infant care, heart attack and congestive heart failure, followed by pneumonia and arthritis.