Infographic: How much does a hospital stay cost?

Written by: Chase Charaba
Published on January 12, 2023.

With the COVID-19 pandemic entering its fourth year and group health insurance rates continuing to rise, healthcare costs are on many people’s minds. Although health insurance is meant to protect us financially when we are sick or injured, the cost of a major medical expense like a hospital stay is still often unknown before the bill arrives in the mail.

This article includes a few infographics that show the average hospital stay cost by type of insurance, including the costs for those without medical coverage. We’ll also break down the cost of various medical procedures.

Download the full infographic summary

How many people stay in hospitals each year?

First, let’s examine how many patients stay in hospitals each year. According to the 2022 American Hospital Association1’s Fast Facts on U.S. Hospitals, there were 6,093 hospitals in the United States. Of these hospitals, 84% are community hospitals.

According to the 2022 report, which analyzes data from the 2020 AHA Annual Survey, there were 33,356,853 hospital admissions. This includes inpatient admission and other health services at community hospitals, rural hospitals, and hospital systems.

Insuring your future, how much does a hospital stay really cost you?, 36.2 million people stayed in hospitals in 2019

In 2021, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality2 (part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services) analyzed the most frequent diagnoses (though not necessarily the most expensive conditions) for inpatient hospital admission in 2018—other than maternal and neonatal stays—and the average hospital charges. We’ve provided this information in the table below.

Inpatient admission diagnoses

Number of hospital stays in 2018

Average cost of hospital stay




Heart failure






Pneumonia (except those caused by tuberculosis)



Diabetes mellitus (with complications)



Acute myocardial infarction



Cardiac dysrhythmias



COPD and bronchiectasis



Acute renal failure



Cerebral infarction



Now that we’ve looked at how many hospital stays there are each year and what the most common visits are, let’s see what the average overall hospital stay costs.

How much does an average overnight hospital stay cost?

According to the most recent data from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality3 (AHRQ), the average insured overnight hospital stay cost about $14,900 in 2020. The cost of hospital stays has risen year-over-year since the agency started tracking costs in 2001 when the average cost of a hospital stay was $6,326.

But, this price tag varies significantly by type of insurance coverage (and if you have insurance coverage at all) and the individual hospital where you receive care. According to the Peterson-KFF Health System Tracker4, the average cost for a lower-back MRI with health insurance is $1,106 in Houston, Texas. In contrast, the same care costs $404 in Las Vegas, Nevada.

HealthCare.gov5 says the average cost of a three-day hospital stay is around $30,000.

Let’s break it down:

Hospital stay costs by insurance, agency for healthcare research and quality

How much are healthcare costs increasing?

According to the Peterson-KFF Health System Tracker4, the average cost of hospital admission for those with traditional group health insurance plans increased by $10,000, or 68%, between 2008 and 2018.

How insurance helps lower hospital costs

While this data shows that uninsured patients have a lower average hospital stay cost, it’s important to remember that private insurance companies often set an out-of-pocket maximum. While your bill may be high, you’ll only be required to pay the amount your provider has set as our maximum out-of-pocket cost.

In addition, most insurance companies will often negotiate your hospital costs, helping you get a discounted price compared to what you were originally charged.

Take a look at what you might pay for each hospital bill without insurance:

uninsured hospital bills, National Nurses United (NNU)

Even with health insurance coverage, hospitalization costs can be staggering. Sometimes, patients who received treatment at an out-of-network hospital for their insurance company would get surprise medical bills. These surprise bills incurred additional healthcare costs for patients. In 2022, the No Surprises Act took effect, helping to eliminate or reduce many surprise bills across the country.

Estimating your hospital bill costs

Whether or not you have insurance isn’t the only factor influencing your hospital bill. Look at a few common factors that can affect how much you pay out-of-pocket.

What affects my hospital bill?

A smart way to get medical bills covered

With the costs of hospital visits and overnight stays rising, it can be daunting to think about the price you’ll pay if you’re ever sick, in an accident, or if any medical conditions arise. This is especially true with the rising cost of traditional employer plans. That’s where employer-provided health benefits such as health reimbursement arrangements (HRAs) and health stipends can come in handy.


If you’re an employer, an HRA allows you to reimburse your employees for their individual health insurance premiums and qualifying medical expenses with tax-free money. This includes insurance premiums, medical bills, and out-of-pocket costs. See the infographic below to learn more about how HRAs can help offset your employees’ medical bills.

Get reimbursed for your medical expenses, Health Care Cost Institute, HRAIf an employee has a medical bill from their hospital stay that qualifies for reimbursement, an HRA allows you to reimburse them up to their monthly allowance.


If you own a small business with fewer than 50 full-time equivalent employees (FTEs), a qualified small employer HRA (QSEHRA) might work best for you. While the IRS caps annual allowances, they’re an affordable alternative to traditional group health insurance and can cover the cost of hospital stays.

An individual coverage HRA (ICHRA) is an excellent option for organizations of all sizes that want more flexibility with their benefit, including the ability to create employee classes.

HRAs aren’t only available for those with individual health insurance coverage. You can also use them for supplemental coverage. If you already offer a group health insurance plan, such as a high deductible health plan (HDHP), you can use a group coverage HRA (GCHRA) to supplement your policy. This ancillary benefit is also known as an integrated HRA.

Health stipends

Another option for your organization's health benefit is a health stipend. This taxable employee stipend allows you to reimburse your employees for their medical expenses up to a customizable monthly allowance. Health stipends work like an HRA but with fewer regulations.

While an HRA is often a better choice for organizations looking to offer a health benefit to their employees, health stipends have advantages. If your employees receive advance premium tax credits, they can use their benefits without affecting APTC eligibility. You can also offer stipends to more types of employees, such as international workers or independent contractors.


The average cost of healthcare and health insurance continues to rise each year. This is especially burdensome for the uninsured.

With personalized health benefits such as HRAs or health stipends, you can help your employees afford their medical expenses, including costs associated with hospitalization.

If you're looking to provide your employees with a health benefit, PeopleKeep can help. Our HRA and employee stipend administration software helps organizations like yours to easily set up their benefit in minutes.

Schedule a call with a personalized benefits advisor today to see how HRAs can fit your organization’s benefits package

This blog article was originally published on November 21, 2013. It was last updated on January 12, 2023.

Infographic data sources:






Originally published on January 12, 2023. Last updated January 12, 2023.


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