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Average Cost of a Hospital ER Visit, MEPS

What is the average cost of a hospital ER visit?  According to the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey (MEPS), the average cost of an ER visit was $1,150 in 2020, up 6.3% from 2019. (If you add medical inflation to 2022, the ER cost estimate would be about $1,210.) Adults ages 18 to 64 had the highest average visit cost at $1,385. Infants and children under age 18 cost $821 per visit on average. Age 65+ averaged $849. The average ER visit cost for someone uninsured was about $1,500 in 2020, up 23% compared to a year earlier. Someone under age 65 with private insurance had an average ER visit expense of $1,682. Many people made more than one trip to the Emergency Room in 2020. Consequently, the total expenditure per person with one or more ER visits during the year, was $1,724 in 2020. The median expenditure per person with an expense was $852.

The costs reported by MEPS are the expenditures (total amounts paid by all parties including insurance) for the ER visits. Actual charges would be much higher. An older, but detailed explanation – using cost to charge ratios – was published in December 2020 (HCUP Statistical Brief #268). It reports an average cost (different methodology) for an Emergency Department visit in 2017 of only $530 (which would be about $609 in 2022 dollars). The federal government has not released costs for the 2021 Emergency Department visits yet. The interactive tool may be difficult for many people to use.

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