A study by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Service’s Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, in a new study, reported that American consumers and their health insurance providers pay nearly $800 billion a year in hospital bills, while health insurance premiums are rising twice as fast as wages. The nation’s cumulative hospital bill represents the total amount charged for 39 million hospital stays.
One-fifth of the national hospital bill was for treatment of five conditions: coronary arteriosclerosis, mother’s pregnancy and delivery, newborn infants, acute myocardial infarction, and congestive heart failure. Hospital stays for coronary arteriosclerosis incurred the highest charges ($44 billion); mother’s pregnancy and delivery had the second highest charges ($41 billion).
The average family health insurance premium rose 7.7 percent in 2006, marking the third year employer healthcare cost increases have slowed since soaring nearly 14 percent in 2003. After several years of costs rising steeply, the cost for family coverage under an employer health plan is now $11,480. This cost is well over the annual wage of a full-time, minimum-wage worker–more than many small businesses and their employees can afford.
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