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Back Problems: ER Visits and Average Cost of Hospital Stay (AHRQ)

Statistical Brief #105 shows average estimated cost of a hospital stay for back problems was over $14,000 in 2008 for a 2-day stay (primary diagnosis), or $11,000 for an average 4.3 day length of stay, if the back problem was just one of other diagnoses for admission. Actual charges would have been higher. Average age for an Emergency Dept. visit (ER visit) for a back problem was 44. Report by AHRQ (respected federal gov’t. agency), 2011. Using simple medical inflation rate, a cost of $14,338 in 2008 would be $21,454 in 2022. Charges could easily be 3 to 4 times higher, or more than $85,000. (For reference, HCUPnet shows average charges for a spinal fusion in 2016 to have been $116,776, while average “costs” were $29,035. In 2018 the average charge for a spine fusion was $128,563, with average costs not reported.)

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