clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

The average hospital stay now costs more than average rent — and that’s after insurance

piggy bank band aid Shutterstock

Think your health insurance will always protect you from sky-high medical bills?

Think again.

The average privately insured American paid $1,013 for a hospital stay in 2013, a new study of millions of insurance claims shows.

To put that figure in perspective, that’s more than the average person’s monthly rent in 2013 — and more than three times the average family’s monthly grocery bill.

It wasn’t always this way. The same study, published earlier this month in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine, shows that out-of-pocket hospital costs increased 37 percent between 2009 and 2013 alone.

Companies keep asking workers to pay more and more for health care

Out-of-pocket health care costs have, in recent years, risen much faster than overall health care spending has. This is partly because companies have been offering their workers skimpier health coverage, leaving patients to pay a larger chunk of the bill.

This lets companies keep premiums relatively low — patients don’t see spikes in the amount they pay month to month to stay enrolled in their benefits. But it also shifts costs to those who use the health care system in any significant way.

Deductibles, for example, have steadily increased in recent decades. This is the amount that patients need to spend before their benefits kick in.

A decade ago a deductible over $500 was rare, and one over $1,000 was pretty much unheard of. Not anymore: The average deductible hit $1,077 in 2015 — up from $646 in 2010 and $303 in 2006, data from the Kaiser Family Foundation shows.

This means the 154 million Americans with private insurance coverage are more exposed than ever to high medical bills. And it explains why going to the hospital can even be costly for those with health insurance plans.

Sign up for the newsletter Today, Explained

Understand the world with a daily explainer plus the most compelling stories of the day.