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Hospital Care for Alcohol Abuse Disorders Costs $2 Billion Annually

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AHRQ News and Numbers

Release date: May 2, 2006

America's community hospitals treated nearly 210,000 patients for alcohol abuse disorders in 2003 at a cost of about $2 billion, according to Department of Health and Human Services' Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ).

  • Twenty-five percent of the hospital stays undertaken primarily for alcohol abuse disorders involved Medicaid patients, 21 percent involved uninsured patients, 13 percent involved Medicare patients, and 34 percent were for privately insured patients.
  • More than 1 million patients admitted for other reasons also had a diagnosis of alcohol abuse.
  • About 3 percent of all hospital stays had some mention of alcohol abuse.
  • Among the uninsured, 25.3 of every 1,000 hospital stays were the result of alcohol abuse disorders, making them the fourth most-common reason for hospitalizations in this group.
  • Alcohol abuse was among the top 25 most-common reasons for hospitalization among men of all ages, and was the fourth most-common reason among men ages 35 to 44.
  • Overall, 65 percent of all hospital admissions due primarily to alcohol abuse disorders also involved a substance abuse disorder; 34.4 percent involved mood disorders such as depression or bipolar disease; 11.5 percent included alcohol-related liver disease, and 8.7 percent involved anxiety disorders.

The Nationwide Inpatient Sample is 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. For more data, see Hospitalizations for Alcohol Abuse Disorders, 2003, HCUP Statistical Brief No. 4, available on the AHRQ Web site at

For more information, or to speak to an HCUP data expert, contact Bob Isquith at or call (301) 427-1539.


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