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Becker's Hospital Review: Rising ER prices, more high severity cases spurred greater healthcare spending - 7 takeaways

By: Kelly Gooch

Among the commercially insured, national emergency room use remained unchanged from 2009 to 2016, but ER price hikes and greater use of high-severity codes resulted in more ER spending, according to updated data from the Health Care Cost Institute.

The data on ER spending, price and utilization reflects five facility fee current procedural terminology codes, which indicate the severity and complexity of an ER visit.

Seven takeaways from the data:

1. Overall ER use remained unchanged between 2009 and 2016, but high-severity codes were used more often during the studied time period, and low-severity codes were used less often.

2. Average prices for all five codes grew from 2009 to 2016, the data showed. Still, average prices for low-severity codes grew at a slower pace.

3. Spending per person for the second-highest severity ER visit grew by 124 percent over the eight years studied, while spending per person for the highest severity ER visit grew by 145 percent.

4. Among U.S. states and the District of Columbia, Mississippi saw the greatest overall increase in ER spending. Overall ER spending rose 153 percent there from 2009 to 2016.

5. Overall ER spending in 21 states increased by more than 100 percent during the studied time period.

6. Nevada saw the highest overall ER price increase. Overall ER price increased 147 percent there from 2009 to 2016.

7. Overall ER price increases of 100 percent or more occurred in 25 states.

To access a state-level breakdown of the data, click here.