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Health Agencies Update
January 26, 2021

The Costs of US Emergency Department Visits

JAMA. 2021;325(4):333. doi:10.1001/jama.2020.26936

The US population made 144.8 million emergency department (ED) visits in 2017, costing a total of $76.3 billion, estimated a recent statistical brief from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality’s Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project (HCUP).

That year, 13.3% of the US population incurred an expense for an ED visit, and more than half of hospital inpatient stays originated with an ED visit. More than half of 2017 ED costs for the entire US, $39.5 billion, were incurred in large metropolitan areas. Aggregate ED visit costs and share of ED visit volume were highest for hospitals in the South. (ED charges were converted to costs using HCUP Cost-to-Charge Ratios based on Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services hospital accounting reports.)

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