Hospitals in the United States faced unprecedented challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic, and those challenges have left them floundering in the face of increased costs and workforce shortages. According to the most recent Costs of Caring report from the American Hospital Association, this combination of factors has resulted in a 17.5% increase in overall hospital expenses between 2019 and 2022. "Further exacerbating the situation is the fact that the staggering expense increases have been met with woefully inadequate increases in government reimbursement," the report states, leading to consistently negative margins and over half of hospitals ending 2022 at a financial loss.

Even so, hospital expenses per inpatient day have been steadily trending upwards for years in the U.S., whether for-profit, non-profit, or state/local government. Research from KFF shows that in 1999, the average adjusted expenses per inpatient day for state/local government hospitals was $1,004. Non-profits were at $1,139, and for-profits were at $999. As of 2021, state/local government stands at $2,742—a 173% increase. Non-profits are at $3,013 (164.5%) and for-profits at $2,296 (129.8%).

Image: KFF

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Richard Binder

Richard Binder, based in New York, is part of the social media team at ALM. He is also a 2014 recipient of the ASPBE Award for Excellence in the Humorous/Fun Department.