What’s the Average Cost of a Hospital Stay in the U.S.?

In 2022, healthcare spending in the United States increased 4.1% to $4.5 trillion, or an average of $13,493 per person. That’s a staggering amount when considering that the average U.S. annual wage was $63,795.13 that same year.

As high-deductible health care plans become more common, more Americans are footing the bill for their care. This can be expensive, especially when you consider the average cost of a hospital stay in the U.S.

Key Points

  • The U.S. average cost of an overnight hospital stay is $3,023
  • An estimated 66.5% of personal bankruptcies are due to costs from hospital stays and medical treatments
  • The average cost of treatments that require an overnight hospital stay is $13,600
  • The cost of a single emergency room visit is estimated to be nearly $2,000
  • 40% of Americans have had credit scores fall due to medical bills
  • One in six credit reports contains a medical debt

Average Cost of an Overnight Hospital Stay By State

According to Kaiser Family Foundation cost statistics, these were average costs by state per inpatient night in 2022, the most recent numbers available.

National Average$3023
Washington D.C.$4068
New Hampshire$3000
New Jersey$3296
New Mexico$3024
New York$3714
North Carolina$2677
North Dakota$2329
Rhode Island$3102
South Carolina$2390
South Dakota$1719
West Virginia$2240
Source: KFF.org (updated March 2024)

Health Care in the United States is Expensive

Whether it’s you who is being admitted for a knee replacement ($15,000 to $70,000), your wife staying in a private room after having a C-section ($17,004), or a child who needs a tonsillectomy ($3,643 to $7,977), costs add up quickly.

According to the American Hospital Association, about 33,679,935 Americans were admitted to hospitals last year. And the out-of-pocket costs for medical care can be financially devastating.

READ MORE: How much does it cost to have a baby?

The numbers are staggering as the total healthcare spending in the United States soared past $4.5 trillion in 2021, according to totals from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. And about $1.3 trillion of that total was spent at hospitals.

Additionally, hospital care averaged $3,023 per day throughout the United States. (That’s 504 hours of work at the average 2021 hourly earnings.) If you reside in California, the most expensive state for health care, the bill will top $4,337 daily. You’ll also pay higher-than-average costs if you live in New York. On the flip side, the least expensive state for health care is Mississippi, averaging $1,425 per day.

Average Cost for Inpatient Treatment Requiring a Hospital Stay

Yes, healthcare costs are high, but costs soar when treatment includes a multi-night stay. The average hospital stay is 4.5 days, which averages about $13,600. 

These numbers and other healthcare-related costs can be financially devastating for anyone, especially if you’re on a limited budget or don’t have health insurance.

Costs can also vary widely depending on whether you visit a for-profit hospital, a nonprofit one or a community hospital.

About 60% to 65% of all bankruptcies are related to medical expenses.

Average Emergency Room Costs

You’d be surprised if you thought an emergency room visit was cheaper than an overnight hospital stay.

According to the Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project, the cost of a single emergency room visit is estimated to be nearly $2,000. Still, the total cost will depend on your condition and where you live.

Note: The Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project is run by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. Find more medical care statistics at ahrq.gov.

It could cost even more if you must be admitted for a more extended stay.

According to USA Today, these ER costs have skyrocketed by 176% percent in the last decade.

Keep this in mind: When you visit an ER for any ailment, your total charge will be based on triage fees ($200-$1,000), facility fees (averages $1,118), doctor fees — not included in facility fees — and supplies. And that’s not even counting the cost if you have to be admitted to the hospital or an intensive care unit.

Pro tip: In triage, there are five severity levels, each with a different charge. Level 1 is the most urgent, and Level 5 is the least urgent. If you’re level 3, 4 or 5, you’ll have a long wait. A level 3 (most common) will pay significantly more than a level 5. 

The bottom line is before you race to an emergency room in your neighborhood, city, or town, assess your condition to ensure it’s an emergency. 

If it isn’t a true emergency — say you fell and think you sprained an ankle — this and other more minor issues can be treated at an urgent care center for a fraction of the cost. 

Going to an urgent care center could save you money, time, and effort. Many are equipped to manage everything from suturing a deep cut to setting a broken arm. In addition to the lower cost, wait times will be shorter and there will be less risk of exposure to colds and flu.

University of Chicago Medicine offers some helpful guidelines on what constitutes an emergency.

Doctor Visit Costs

Before going to the hospital, ER, or an urgent care center, you should assess whether you simply need to see the doctor.

You should also know what type of insurance plan you have, what it covers and who the network providers are before visiting any healthcare facility (unless it’s an emergency.)

Even when you go to a doctor for a routine visit and if you have private insurance, you’ll probably have to pay a co-pay ranging from $20 to $25 for a primary care visit to $30 to $50 on average to see a specialist. 

However, if you have a High-Deductible Health Plan or HDHP, you’ll pay the total price until your deductible obligations are met.

Doctor Visit Costs Without Insurance

A doctor’s visit will set you back somewhere between $70 and $250 if you’re uninsured, but this number rises if you need additional testing or prescriptions.

Healthcare BlueBook is an online guide to healthcare pricing, with amounts based on the typical fees physicians nationwide accept as payment from insurance companies. Their pricing says an office visit for a new patient with a minor problem will cost between $90 to $283. An office visit for an established patient with complex issues ranges from $222 to $695+.

Typical Hospital Charges

When you go to the hospital for a procedure, you might be surprised to learn how expensive it is. Many people get sticker shock when the hospital bill arrives.

If you think buying a new car or putting down a down payment on a home is cheaper, guess again.

Here are some examples of typical medical costs based on the national average, depending on where and when you might have these practices:

  • Hysterectomy: $4,271 for a vaginal hysterectomy to $8,413 for a vaginal or abdominal hysterectomy. 
  • Gallbladder surgery: For patients without health insurance, gallbladder surgery typically costs $10,000-$20,000.
  • COVID-19: For patients in the intensive care unit, the median length of stay was five days with an average total cost of $13,443 and a median cost per day of $2,902. For hospitalized patients overall, the median total cost was $11,267, or $1,772 a day for an average of six days.
  • Appendectomy: For patients not covered by health insurance, an appendectomy typically costs about $10,000-$35,000 or more, depending on the provider, whether the operation is open or laparoscopic, and whether there are complications. 
  • ICD implantation: If you’ve never heard of an ICD, be thankful: it stands for Implantable Cardioverter-Defibrillator. It’s a small electronic device similar to a pacemaker that sends an electrical shock to the heart that essentially “reboots” it to get it pumping again. Total costs for an ICD implantation range from $24,078 to $57,347 with an average of $36,098.
  • Coronary bypass surgery: Depending on how complicated the heart procedure needs to be, costs average $75,345 in the United States.
  • Hip replacement: Surgery can cost you anywhere between $23,203 to $74,000+, according to Healthcare BlueBook.
  • Knee replacement: The average cost of an inpatient knee replacement procedure was $30,249, compared with $19,002 as an outpatient, according to estimates from Blue Cross Blue Shield.
  • Weight loss surgery: The average cost of gastric bypass surgery is $23,000, the average cost of a lap band procedure is $14,500, and the average cost of sleeve gastrectomy surgery is $14,900.

Pro tip: Bear in mind that there are other costs associated with surgery, including pre-and post-surgical treatment, anesthesia (you don’t want to skimp there!), consultations with the surgeon and various deductibles, co-pays and premiums.

What Happens If You Can’t Afford Your Medical Bills?

So, what happens if you have a heart attack, a stroke, or some other major illness and can’t afford your medical bills?

If you find yourself in this spot, you are not alone. According to the Federal Reserve, the credit scores of two in five Americans were negatively affected by medical bills. One in six credit reports contains a medical debt.

And despite rumors to the contrary, the federal government says that it is not a violation of HIPAA (The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996) to send medical debts to debt collectors or debt collection agencies.

READ MORE: Medical bill debt collection laws

The Bottom Line

Overall, health care in the United States continues to be costly, regardless of whether you have the best of the best private insurance or are on a government plan without all the bells and whistles. 

And unfortunately, healthcare costs don’t appear to be going down any time soon.

It’s important to make sure you understand your insurance policy and have an emergency savings account in case a medical emergency arises.

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