Medicare pays for nearly half of rural hospital stays

Research Activities, March 2010, No. 355

Medicare patients accounted for nearly half (45 percent) of all stays at rural hospitals in 2007, while the percentage of Medicare beneficiaries who were admitted to urban hospitals was considerably lower (35 percent), according to the latest data from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. The Agency's analysis also found that in 2007:

  • About 25 percent of rural hospital patients were covered by private health insurance vs. 36 percent of urban hospital patients. One-fifth of patients in both rural and urban hospitals had Medicaid and about 5 percent were uninsured.
  • Half of the nation's 2,000 rural hospitals had fewer than 50 beds compared with only one-fifth of urban hospitals.
  • The top five illnesses among the two-thirds of rural residents who were hospitalized in rural facilities were pneumonia (267,000 stays); congestive heart failure (166,000 stays); chronic obstructive lung disease (146,000 stays); chest pain (110,000); and fluid and electrolyte disorders, primarily dehydration and fluid overload (106,000 stays).
  • The top five illnesses among the one-third of rural residents who were admitted to urban hospitals were hardening of the arteries (108,000 stays); osteoarthritis (79,000 stays); back disorders (75,000 stays); medical device, implant, or graft complications (61,000 stays); and heart attack (61,000 stays).

These data come from the report, Inpatient Stays in Rural Hospitals, 2007. The report uses statistics from the 2007 Nationwide Inpatient Sample, a database of hospital inpatient stays that is nationally representative of inpatient stays in all short-term, non-Federal hospitals. The data are drawn from hospitals that comprise 90 percent of all discharges in the United States and include all patients, regardless of insurance type, as well as the uninsured. The report is available at http://www.hcup-us.ahrq.gov/reports/statbriefs/sb85.jsp.

Current as of March 2010
Internet Citation: Medicare pays for nearly half of rural hospital stays: Research Activities, March 2010, No. 355. March 2010. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD. http://archive.ahrq.gov/news/research-activities/mar10/0310RA25.html