Harvard Heart Letter

Heart Beat: Heart heavy hospital bill

Heart Beat

Heart heavy hospital bill

The federal Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality has published the top 10 conditions that contributed to Medicare's whopping $327 billion hospital bill in 2003, the last year for which complete records are available. Of the top 10, 5 were conditions that affect the heart and arteries. Medicare was charged $24 billion for hospitalizations due to clogged arteries, $18 billion for heart failure, $17 billion for heart attacks, $11 billion for irregular heart rhythms, and $9 billion for stroke. Rounding out the list were pneumonia ($15 billion), complications from devices, implants, or grafts ($12 billion), arthritis ($11 billion), blood infections ($8 billion), and broken hips ($7 billion). This is only the hospital bill, and doesn't include doctors' fees and other charges!

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