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AHRQ Brief Looks at Number, Cost of Uninsured Hospitalizations in 2003

JUNE 5, 2006 -- Almost 5 percent of all hospitalizations in 2003 involved patients who were uninsured, according to a statistical brief released recently from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ). The brief also notes that hospital charges for the 1.7 million uninsured hospital stays in 2003 totaled $29 billion.

It cites that while people may put off some basic medical care, hospitalization may be the only option when it comes to a life-threatening or serious condition.

The brief shows that half of all uninsured hospital patients in 2003 were between 18 and 44 years of age, compared with one-third of privately insured and Medicaid patients in this age range. In addition, nearly 60 percent of uninsured hospitals stays originated in emergency rooms and that uninsured people in the South were the most likely to be hospitalized.

The statistics were compiled through the agency's Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project, a group of health care databases developed through a federal-state-industry partnership.

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