Average U.S. Outpatient Visit's Cost Nears $500

The findings by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington were part of a larger study on funding and services needed for universal health coverage (UHC) in every country.

The cost of an average outpatient visit in the United States was $478 in 2017, and the average inpatient stay cost more than $22,000, according to a new scientific study. The findings by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington were part of a larger study on funding and services needed for universal health coverage (UHC) in every country.

"To achieve UHC, health officials in the government, private, and nonprofit sectors need to expand services to accommodate population growth and aging, as well as expand insurance coverage," said Professor Marcia R. Weaver of the institute. "Not surprisingly, we found both overutilization and underutilization of services among inpatient and outpatient facilities. More importantly, we identified countries like the Netherlands, Portugal, and Thailand that have the right amount of each."

Between 1990 and 2016, inpatient admissions globally increased by more than two-thirds while outpatient visits increased by more than half. In countries such as China, Indonesia, Thailand, and Turkey, policies that expanded coverage were associated with increased patient visits and admissions, while in sub-Saharan African countries, most of the increase resulted from population growth. The study estimates that UHC for all nations, which is one of the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals for 2030, would cost $576 billion and require a 49 percent increase in admissions and a 27 percent increase in outpatient visits.

"The study reveals some of the remaining challenges in determining a UHC standard for utilization and the costs of reaching this standard," according to a commentary by Dr. Simon Wieser and Dr. Klaus Eichler of the Winterhur Institute of Health Economics at the Zurich University of Applied Sciences. "The quality of health care services is likely to differ substantially between countries, and inefficiencies in current health care systems should be considered when calculating UHC costs."

The study and the commentary were published in The Lancet Public Health on Dec. 12.

OH&S Digital Edition

  • OHS Magazine Digital Edition - June 2020

    June 2020

    Featuring:

    • FIRE SAFETY
      Recognizing and Mitigating Static Electricity Hazards
    • OIL & GAS
      New Gas Detection Technology
    • HEAT STRESS
      Stop Sweating Heat Stress
    • ELECTRICAL SAFETY
      Electricity is Everywhere
    View This Issue