Context: Few studies have examined hospitalization patterns among the uninsured, especially from the perspective of rural and urban differences. Purpose: To examine whether the patterns of uninsured hospitalizations differ in rural and urban hospitals and to identify the most prevalent and costly diagnoses among uninsured hospitalizations. Methods: We conducted a cross-sectional analysis of the Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project's National Inpatient Sample representing a total of 37,804,021 hospital discharges, with 4.9% of them generated by uninsured persons in 2002. We compared demographic and clinical characteristics and the proportion of frequent and costly diagnoses by rural and urban hospitals. We used multiple logistic regression models to examine the relationship between preventable conditions and rural and urban hospitals among uninsured hospitalizations. Findings: Uninsured persons discharged from rural hospitals were more likely than their urban counterparts to be working-age adults (82% vs 79%) and to reside in a ZIP code area with a median household income of less than $35,000 per year (56% vs 26%). Rural uninsured hospitalizations were more likely to be for preventable conditions than were urban uninsured hospitalizations (P <.001). The proportion of total hospital charges related to preventable hospitalizations was 15.5% in rural hospitals versus 10.0% in urban hospitals. Conclusions: The patterns of uninsured hospitalizations in rural and urban hospitals were different in many ways. Providing adequate access to primary care could result in potential savings related to preventable hospitalizations for the uninsured, especially for rural hospitals.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health