The 35 most expensive reasons you might have to visit a hospital in the US -- and how much it costs if you do

  • Hospital stays are expensive – adding up to more than $US384.5 billion a year in the US, according to recent data.
  • The average hospital stay costs over $US10,000, but the amount varies widely depending on the medical condition.
  • The top 35 most expensive conditions account for more than 70% of all hospital costs in the US.

Any hospital visit can be scary – and frighteningly expensive.

The average hospital stay in the US costs just over $US10,700, based on an analysis of recent data from the Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project (HCUP).

Using the 2014 National Impatient Survey from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, HCUP found the hospital visits and costs associated with different medical conditions classified by the Clinical Classifications Software principal diagnosis category. In total, there were 35.4 million hospital stays with an aggregate cost of $US384.5 billion.

Routine childbirth accounted for the most stays – over 3.8 million – but is a relatively low-cost hospital trip compared to other conditions at $US3,600. Of all hospital stays billed to Medicaid, 23.1% fell in this category.

The 35 most expensive conditions accounted for 70% of all hospital costs in the US. Septicemia – also called sepsis, a life-threatening reaction to an infection – created the greatest total cost at $US27 billion. But, because of the large number of patients treated for the condition, it did not have the highest average cost per treatment. Heart and lung conditions also show up frequently when looking at the most expensive illnesses.

Who paid the hospital bill tells a different story, and is an important piece of the national debate on health care. Medicare covered 46% of that cost, with Medicaid pitching in 17%. Private insurance paid for 28% of the cost, while 5% went to patients who were uninsured.

In addition to what patients are going to the hospital for, where they are can also affect costs. A trip to the hospital in the US can vary a great deal based on where you live.

We went through the 50 conditions with the highest total hospital cost and found the average cost per hospital stay based on how many visits were made for each condition. These are the 35 conditions with the highest average cost:


35. Pancreatic disorders

Justin Sullivan/Getty ImagesSteve Jobs died of pancreatic cancer.

Acute pancreatitis, chronic pancreatitis, hereditary pancreatitis, and pancreatic cancer are several of the more common disorders that lead to digestive problems in the pancreas.

Average cost per stay:$US9,727

Per cent of all US hospital stays:0.9%


34. Pneumonia

Pneumonia is a lung condition – an infectious inflammation of the air sacs.

Average cost per stay:$US9,793

Per cent of all US hospital stays:2.5%


33. Diabetes mellitus with complications

Conditions that occur from poor treatment of diabetes are wide-ranging, from vascular diseases, blindness, and chronic kidney disease.

Average cost per stay: $US9,850

Per cent of all US hospital stays:1.5%


32. Diverticulosis and diverticulitis

China Photos/Getty

Diverticulosis is the presence of bulging pouches in the digestive track and diverticulitis occurs when the pouches become inflamed or infected.

Average cost per stay:$US10,169

Per cent of all US hospital stays:0.8%


31. Cardiac dysrhythmias

Cardiac dysrhythmia is the medical term for an irregular heartbeat.

Average cost per stay:$US10,191

Per cent of all US hospital stays:1.9%


30. Intestinal obstruction without hernia

Intestinal obstruction is a food or liquid blockage that may be caused by Crohn’s Disease, colon cancer, or other diseases.

Average cost per stay:$US10,944

Per cent of all US hospital stays:1.0%


29. Congestive heart failure

Congestive heat failure is the inability to pump an adequate amount of blood through the body and can be caused by many diseases.

Average cost per stay:$US11,500

Per cent of all US hospital stays:2.5%


28 . Other nervous system disorders

Courtesy of The University Of Louisville

Trauma, infections, and tumours are some of the many conditions that afflict the brain, spine, nerves, eyes, ears, or other parts of the nervous system.

Average cost per stay:$US11,538

Per cent of all US hospital stays:0.7%


27. Other gastrointestinal disorders

Food allergies, lactose intolerance, and celiac disease are some of the many disorders that harm functionality of the stomach and intestines.

Average cost per stay:$US11,564

Per cent of all US hospital stays:0.6%


26. Pulmonary heart disease

Joe Raedle/Getty

A high blood pressure that affects lung arteries and the right side of your heart results in pulmonary hypertension.

Average cost per stay:$US11,564

Per cent of all US hospital stays:0.5%


25. Biliary tract disease

Biliary diseases are a group of conditions that affect the biliary system – including gallstones and pancreatitis.

Average cost per stay:$US11,764

Per cent of all US hospital stays:1.1%


24. Hypertension with complications and secondary hypertension

Unlike pulmonary hypertension (heart disease), secondary hypertension is high blood pressure caused by another medical condition.

Average cost per stay:$US12,164

Per cent of all US hospital stays:0.7%


23. Other nutritional, endocrine, and metabolic disorders

Osteoporosis, cystic fibrosis, and obesity are major diseases related to glands and metabolism.

Average cost per stay:$US12,173

Per cent of all US hospital stays:0.6%


22. Complications of surgical procedures or medical care

Any side effect of surgery or a basic medical procedure is included here.

Average cost per stay:$US13,565

Per cent of all US hospital stays:1.3%


21. Rehabilitation care, fitting of prostheses, and adjustment of devices

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Rehabilitation includes “services that help you keep, get back, or improve skills and functioning for daily living that have been lost or impaired because you were sick, hurt, or disabled.”

Average cost per stay:$US13,877

Per cent of all US hospital stays:1.1%


20. Other fractures

This category includes broken bones that are not in their own category such as skull breaks.

Average cost per stay:$US14,149

Per cent of all US hospital stays:0.6%


19. Abdominal hernia

Christopher Furlong/Getty

A hernia is the protrusion of an organ through tissue and often occurs by the pelvic floor or abdominal wall.

Average cost per stay:$US14,447

Per cent of all US hospital stays:0.5%


18. Acute cerebrovascular disease

Cerebrovascular disease impacts the blood flow in the brain and often results in strokes.

Average cost per stay:$US15,378

Per cent of all US hospital stays:1.7%


17. Osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis – or degenerative joint disease – is the wearing down of tissue between joints.

Average cost per stay:$US15,897

Per cent of all US hospital stays:3.0%


16. Maintenance chemotherapy, radiotherapy

Chris Hondros/Getty Images

Chemo and radiation therapy are both types of cancer treatment.

Average cost per stay:$US15,988

Per cent of all US hospital stays:0.4%


15. Fracture of neck of femur (hip)

Grandpa / Shutterstock.com

Breaks in the neck of the femur are common among athletes and elderly individuals with osteoporosis.

Average cost per stay:$US16,133

Per cent of all US hospital stays:0.9%


14. Peripheral and visceral atherosclerosis

Atherosclerosis restricts blood flow to the heart by clogging of the inner walls of the arteries.

Average cost per stay:$US16,771

Per cent of all US hospital stays:0.4%


13. Fracture of lower limb

Broken hips, knees, tibias, ankles, and other lower body bones are included here.

Average cost per stay:$US16,796

Per cent of all US hospital stays:0.6%


12. Secondary malignancies

Carlos Giusti/Getty

New cancers that arrive as a result of treatment of a first cancer are described as secondary malignancies.

Average cost per stay:$US17,163

Per cent of all US hospital stays:0.5%


11. Cancer of bronchus, lung

AMCWalter White was diagnosed with lung cancer in the first episode of ‘Breaking Bad’

Lung cancer – or bronchial carcinoma – is mainly caused by smoking.

Average cost per stay:$US17,530

Per cent of all US hospital stays:0.4%


10. Respiratory failure, insufficiency, arrest (adult)

Sean Gallup/Getty Images

Respiratory failure and insufficiency happens when the lungs cannot produce enough oxygen or expel enough carbon dioxide. Respiratory arrest is the cessation of breathing.

Average cost per stay:$US17,868

Per cent of all US hospital stays:1.2%


9. Septicemia

Septicemia – or sepsis – is blood poisoning caused by a bacterial infection.

Average cost per stay:$US18,031

Per cent of all US hospital stays:4.3%


8. Spondylosis, intervertebral disc disorders, other back problems

Spondylosis refers to any degeneration of the spine. Invertebral disc disorders is the breakdown of the discs inbetween the bones of the spine.

Average cost per stay:$US18,978

Per cent of all US hospital stays:1.5%


7. Intracranial injury

A traumatic brain injury is a serious blow to the head causing brain dysfunction.

Average cost per stay:$US19,539

Per cent of all US hospital stays:0.6%


6. Complication of device, implant or graft

VCG/VCG via Getty Images

Devices, implants, and grafts are placed in the body during surgery to correct a clinical condition.

Average cost per stay:$US20,175

Per cent of all US hospital stays:1.8%


5. Acute myocardial infarction (heart attack)

Justin Sullivan/Getty

Acute myocardial infarction is the medical name for a heart attack.

Average cost per stay:$US20,246

Per cent of all US hospital stays:1.7%


4. Coronary atherosclerosis

Coronary atherosclerosis is a heart disease caused by plaque buildup in arteries, preventing proper blood flow.

Average cost per stay:$US20,936

Per cent of all US hospital stays:1.1%


3. Aortic, peripheral, and visceral artery aneurysms

Aneurysms have different names depending on where the weakened artery is located.

Average cost per stay:$US34,656

Per cent of all US hospital stays:0.2%


2. Heart valve disorders

Joe Raedle/Getty

Heart valve disorders is a catch-all term for any illness stemming from the improper use of any of the four heart valves that controls blood flow.

Average cost per stay:$US42,647

Per cent of all US hospital stays:0.4%


1. Cardiac and circulatory congenital anomalies

Congenital heart disease and heart murmurs are among this group of heart and lung problems.

Average cost per stay:$US63,460

Per cent of all US hospital stays:0.1%

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