Hospital Outpatient Care Accounts for One-Fifth of Outpatient Costs, 5% of Outpatient Visits

Hospital outpatient care accounts for more than one-fifth of all outpatient costs in the United States, though it makes up only 5 percent of outpatient visits, according to a MedPageToday report.

2008 data from the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey showed that most outpatient visits (91 percent) occur in office-based settings, but those visits make up only 64 percent of all ambulatory physician visit expenditures. Another 36 percent of outpatient care costs were divided between HOPDs and ED care, which made up 22 percent and 14 percent, respectively.

According to the report, the cost of an office-based visit averaged $199, compared with $922 for an average ED visit and $1,275 for a hospital outpatient visit. Expenses per visit were highest for emergency departments and lowest for offices when no surgical procedure was involved.

Fewer office-based visits included no out-of-pocket costs for patients (44 percent), compared to hospital outpatient visits (58 percent) and emergency department visits (58 percent). The most common conditions patients were treated for during office-based visits were hypertension, mental disorders, trauma, COPD/asthma and cancer. Hospital outpatient visits most often saw mental disorders, cancer, trauma, kidney disease and "other heart conditions," and the ED saw trauma most often, followed by COPD/asthma, other heart conditions, acute bronchitis/upper respiratory infection and intestinal infection.

Read the MedPageToday report about outpatient visit costs.

Related Articles on HOPDs:
U.S. Representative Discusses Benefit of ASCs in Tour of Tri-Cities Surgery Center

Congressional Leaders Lobby for Surgery Center Medicare Payments Equal to Hospital Outpatient Department
Can Health Plans Impose a Copayment for Preventive Services Received in a HOPD if the Service is Offered Without Cost at an Ambulatory Surgical Center?

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