In 2007, baby boomers (adults age 55-64) had more than 4.7 million hospital stays totaling $59 billion, or 16 percent of total hospital costs in the United States, according to a recently released Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project statistical brief.

Hospital Review, reporting on the brief, writes the total number of hospital discharges among 55-64 year-olds increased from 3.4 million in 1997 to 4.7 million in 2007. However, when adjusted for population changes, the rate of hospitalization among the near-elderly fell nearly 7 percent between 1997 and 2007, according to the brief.

Other key findings of the report include the following:
o Approximately half (51.7 percent) of hospitalizations for adults age 55-64 were covered by private insurance and 36.9 percent were covered by public insurance.
o There were fewer uninsured hospital stays among adults age 55-64, as compared with younger patients age 45-54 (6.0 vs. 10.5 percent).
o Hospitalizations for adults age 55-64 were longer (5.2 vs. 4.8 days) and more costly ($11,900 vs. $10,400) than stays among adults 45-54 years-old but were not significantly different from stays among 65-74 year olds.
o Nearly one-third (29.0 percent) of hospital stays for adults age 55-64 were elective — higher than 45-54 year olds but the same as older patients.
o Procedures that were more likely to be elective, such as knee replacement, back surgery, spinal fusion and hip replacement, had the highest rates among privately insured patients aged 55-64 and were lowest among the uninsured.
o Hospital stays ending in a discharge to home health or long-term care were 12.1 percent and 10.8 percent, respectively, and in-hospital mortality for near-elderly stays was 2.1 percent. These percentages were higher than those for 45-64 year olds but lower than those for 65-74 year olds.
o Like elderly hospital stays, the rate of hospitalization among the near-elderly was slightly higher in males (151.7 stays per 1,000 near-elderly males vs. 140.4 stays per 1,000 near-elderly females). In contrast, the rate of hospitalization among males and females aged 45-54 years-old was nearly equal.