Data Shows Uninsured Patients Have Shorter Hospital Stays

By Amy Norton, Reuters Health

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) — Uninsured Americans tend to be discharged from the hospital somewhat sooner than those with health coverage, regardless of the medical condition itself, a new study finds.

Researchers are not sure what the reasons for the findings are. And it’s not clear that a shorter hospital stay is a bad thing.

Still, the findings suggest that financial factors are playing a role in hospital length of stay, the authors say.

Looking at records for nearly 850,000 adults discharged from U.S. hospitals between 2003 and 2007, the researchers found that uninsured patients had a slightly shorter stay than patients with private insurance or Medicaid — the government-funded health program for the poor.

When it came to potentially preventable hospitalizations — for worsening of chronic health problems like asthma or diabetes, for example — uninsured patients stayed in the hospital just under 2.8 days, on average.

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