Insurance can be complicated. There are countless acronyms and insurance lingo. We will break down these terms and help you better understand the industry.

How much does it cost to spend a day in a hospital?

Don’t you wish healthcare was like a menu at McDonald’s?  You could show up with your broken arm and know how much it would cost within minutes of arriving.  Healthcare unfortunately is not that transparent or easy to work with.  You won’t know the cost of your broken arm for weeks and that is after you already had the procedures (when you get your bill).  Following are average costs per inpatient day, organized by hospital ownership type, in all 50 states plus the District of Columbia:

Average Cost Per Inpatient Day Across 50 States in 2012 (updated November 2014)

Government Hospitals
    Non-Profit Hospitals
    For-Profit Hospitals
United States $1,831 $2,214 $1,747
Alabama $1,493 $1,400 $1,253
Alaska $1,521 $2,369 $2,809
Arizona $1,730 $2,462 $2,002
Arkansas $1,382 $1,688 $1,407
California $2,767 $3,275 $2,084
Colorado $1,950 $2,493 $2,522
Connecticut $3,146 $2,369 $2,363
Delaware N/A $2,675 $3,510
District of Columbia $759 $2,926 $2,006
Florida $2,132 $2,178 $1,551
Georgia $922 $1,756 $1,462
Hawaii $1,166 $2,320 N/A
Idaho $1,154 $2,842 $2,004
Illinois $2,006 $2,218 $1,544
Indiana $1,776 $2,359 $2,115
Iowa $1,327 $1,419 $1,806
Kansas $1,064 $1,654 $1,852
Kentucky $1,647 $1,722 $1,542
Louisiana $1,667 $1,680 $1,668
Maine $1,523 $2,170 $787
Maryland N/A $2,495 $2,062
Massachusetts $1,788 $2,741 $1,768
Michigan $1,218 $2,147 $2,482
Minnesota $1,033 $2,179 $2,657
Mississippi $1,176 $1,423 $1,789
Missouri $1,400 $2,104 $1,730
Montana $507 $1,332 $3,173
Nebraska $676 $1,886 $1,334
Nevada $2,304 $2,143 $1,715
New Hampshire N/A $2,296 $2,024
New Jersey $1,964 $2,464 $1,381
New Mexico $2,681 $2,082 $1,926
New York $1,878 $2,082 N/A
North Carolina $1,969 $1,862 $1,527
North Dakota N/A $1,514 $1,767
Ohio $2,327 $2,395 $2,285
Oklahoma $1,304 $1,844 $1,791
Oregon $2,725 $3,199 $2,761
Pennsylvania $747 $2,142 $1,675
Rhode Island N/A $2,536 N/A
South Carolina $1,936 $1,928 $1,636
South Dakota $474 $1,132 $2,312
Tennessee $1,352 $1,892 $1,421
Texas $2,700 $2,222 $1,794
Utah $2,658 $2,418 $2,198
Vermont N/A $1,532 N/A
Virginia $2,596 $1,734 $1,809
Washington $2,698 $3,273 $2,310
West Virginia $728 $1,582 $1,151
Wisconsin $344 $2,038 $2,523
Wyoming $1,157 $1,443 $2,200


Includes all operating and non-operating expenses for registered US community hospitals, defined as nonfederal short-term general and other special hospitals whose facilities and services are available to the public. Adjusted expenses per inpatient day include expenses incurred for both inpatient and outpatient care; inpatient days are adjusted higher to reflect an estimate of the volume of outpatient services. It is important to note that these figures are only an estimate of expenses incurred (by the hospital to provide a day of) inpatient care and are not a substitute for either actual charges or reimbursement for care provided.

Source:  The Kaiser Family Foundation State Health Facts.


Member Health Insurance Exchanges explained.

Private Member Health Insurance Exchange:

A private member health insurance exchange is an exchange run by a private sector company or nonprofit. Health plans and carriers in a private exchange must meet certain criteria defined by the exchange management. Private exchanges combine technology and human advocacy, include online eligibility verification, and mechanisms for allowing consumers to quote, compare, and complete enrollment.  They are designed to help consumers find plans personalized to their specific health conditions, preferred doctor/hospital networks, and budget. These exchanges are sometimes called marketplaces or intermediaries, and work directly with insurance carriers, effectively acting as an extension of the carrier.

Health Insurance Exchanges in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA)

President Obama promoted the concept of a health insurance exchange as a key component of his health reform initiative. Obama stated that it should be “…a market where Americans can one-stop shop for a health care plan, compare benefits and prices, and choose the plan that’s best for them, in the same way that Members of Congress and their families can. None of these plans should deny coverage on the basis of a preexisting condition, and all of these plans should include an affordable basic benefit package that includes prevention, and protection against catastrophic costs.  Insurance sold on the health insurance exchanges in the United States will be exclusively from private insurers (Aetna, United Health Insurance, Blue Cross Blue Shield, and others).

Government run Exchanges

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) sets up government run insurance exchanges in each state known as American Health Benefits (AHB) Exchanges. Implementation of the individual exchanges changes the practice of insuring individuals. The expansion of this market is the major focus of President Obama’s Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.   Studies have shown that increases in health care costs are driven by increases in per-case cost, not merely the overall prevalence of disease, thus driving the need for greater access to health coverage.

Major requirements affecting insurers in the individual exchanges:

  • Guaranteed issue: insurers will not be permitted to refuse to insure any individuals
  • Limit to price variations: prices will vary based on four factors and not beyond a total factor of approximately 10
  • Plans will be offered in four comparable tiers ranging from bronze to platinum with limited out of pocket expenses
  • Strict regulations on rescission
  • Lifetime and annual limits eliminated

Guaranteed Issue

In the individual market, sometimes thought of as the “residual market” of insurance, insurers have generally used a process called underwriting to ensure that each individual paid for his or her actuarial value or to deny coverage altogether.  The House Committee on Energy and Commerce found that, between 2007 and 2009, the four largest for-profit insurance companies refused insurance to 651,000 people for previous medical conditions, a number that has increased significantly each year (49% increase in that time period).  The same memorandum said that 212,800 claims had been refused payment due to pre-existing conditions and the insurance firms had business plans to limit money paid based on these pre-existing conditions. These persons who might not have received insurance under previous industry practices are guaranteed insurance coverage under the ACA. Hence, the insurance exchanges will shift a greater amount of financial risk to the insurers, but will help to share the cost of that risk among a larger pool of insured individuals.

The ACA’s prohibition on denying coverage for pre-existing conditions will begin in 2014.