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Rural Hospitals Admit More Medicare Patients

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In 2007, Medicare patients accounted for 45 percent of all stays at rural hospitals and 35 percent of stays at urban hospitals, says a new U.S. government report.

The latest News and Numbers from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality also found that 36 percent of urban hospital patients and 25 percent of rural hospital patients were covered by private insurance. About 20 percent of patients in both urban and rural hospitals had Medicaid and about 5 percent were uninsured.

Among the other findings:

* About half of the 2,000 rural hospitals in the United States had fewer than 50 beds, compared with 20 percent of urban hospitals.
* Among the two-thirds of rural residents who were hospitalized in rural hospitals, the top five illnesses were: pneumonia (267,000 stays); congestive heart failure (166,000 stays); chronic obstructive lung disease (146,000 stays); chest pain (110,000 stays); and fluid and electrolyte disorders, primarily dehydration and fluid overload (106,000 stays).
* Among the one-third of rural residents admitted to urban hospitals, the top five illnesses were: hardening of the arteries (108,000 stays); osteoarthritis (79,000 stays); back problems (75,000 stays); medical device, implant or graft complications (61,000 stays); and heart attack (61,000 stays).

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