Seniors Account for 1 in 3 Hospital Stays

Cheryl Clark, December 23, 2010

It's widely understood that after age 65, people are more likely to need care in a hospital compared with the general population. But a report from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality quantifies it both in numbers and in dollars.

Seniors 65 and older had more than 14 million hospital stays, or more than one-third of all U.S. community hospital stays and 14%, or $157.7 billion, of total hospital costs for 2008, says the statistical brief.

The statistical brief says that while people over age 65 represent 12% of the population but use 34% of healthcare spending, and healthcare costs for those seniors "are three to five times higher than costs for patients under 65."

Those between the ages of 75 and 84 years accounted for almost 14% of the 40 million admissions to U.S. hospitals in 2008, while patients age 85 and older made up another 8%, for a total of 22% of hospital admissions.

These higher costs will increase healthcare spending in the U.S. by 25% by 2030.

The differences are seen especially for people who are 85 and older. They accounted for a relatively small share of hospital discharges (8% overall) but were more than twice as likely to be hospitalized as younger seniors between the ages of 65 and 74.

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