This article is a methodological review to help the intensivist gain insights into the classic and sometimes arcane maze of national databases and methodologies used to determine and analyze the ICU bed supply, use, occupancy, and costs in the United States. Data for total ICU beds, use, and occupancy can be derived from two large national healthcare databases: the Healthcare Cost Report Information System maintained by the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and the proprietary Hospital Statistics of the American Hospital Association. Two costing methodologies can be used to calculate U.S. ICU costs: the Russell equation and national projections. Both methods are based on cost and use data from the national hospital datasets or from defined groups of hospitals or patients. At the national level, an understanding of U.S. ICU bed supply, use, occupancy, and costs helps provide clarity to the width and scope of the critical care medicine enterprise within the U.S. healthcare system. This review will also help the intensivist better understand published studies on administrative topics related to critical care medicine and be better prepared to participate in their own local hospital organizations or regional critical care medicine programs.