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U.S. hospitals treat many uninsured victims of car crashes, violence, and other injuries

Hospital stays for the uninsured are more likely to be for treatment of injuries compared with the stays of privately insured patients, according to a new report from the Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project (HCUP) of the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ). The report also found that:

  • Injuries accounted for 11.3 percent of the 1.7 million uninsured hospital admissions in 2003—roughly 192,000 cases. This rate was almost 3 times the rate for privately insured patients.
  • Mental health and mood disorders accounted for nearly 11 percent of uninsured hospital stays. In fact, mood disorders, such as depression and bipolar disorder, as well as alcohol abuse and substance abuse ranked among the top 10 reasons for hospitalizing the uninsured.
  • Asthma and diabetes—chronic conditions that can be controlled with good quality primary care—also ranked high among uninsured hospital patients.
  • Only childbirth surpassed all these conditions as the leading reason for admitting uninsured patients to hospitals. Roughly one in five uninsured hospital stays were for women giving birth.

These and other statistics are presented in HCUP Statistical Brief No. 8: Conditions Related to Uninsured Hospitalizations, 2003, available at http://www.hcup-us.ahrq.gov/reports/statbriefs.jsp. The report uses statistics from HCUP's Nationwide Inpatient Sample, a database of hospital inpatient stays that is nationally representative of 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.

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