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Race, Insurance Status Affect Potentially Avoidable Hospitalizations

Ruzanna Harutyunyan's picture

"The Effects of Race and Insurance on Potentially Avoidable Hospitalizations in Tennessee" Medical Care Research and Review: Researchers from the University of Tennessee Health Science Center and the University of Memphis used data from an Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality quality of care tool to evaluate whether there were racial or insurance differences in risk of potentially avoidable hospitalizations in Tennessee.

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They also sought to distinguish between potentially avoidable hospitalizations related to chronic conditions, such as hypertension and asthma, and hospitalizations related to acute conditions, such as a perforated appendix or bacterial pneumonia. The researchers found that both race and insurance were strongly associated with risk for potentially avoidable hospitalizations. Black patients with chronic conditions had higher risks than whites for such hospitalizations, while black patients with acute conditions were slightly less likely than whites with similar conditions to experience a potentially avoidable hospitalization, according to the study. Blacks who had Medicare, other public health insurance or private health insurance, or were uninsured all had a higher risk of a potentially avoidable hospitalization than whites in the same categories, though the degree of risk varied by insurance category.

The researchers call for further study into the finding that there were more potentially avoidable hospitalizations for chronic conditions. In addition, while racial health disparities "cannot be eliminated easily by a single action," the study's findings can play a role in reducing disparities because they confirm the value of AHRQ's tool in evaluating care quality, the study says (Chang et al., Medical Care Research and Review, October 2008).

Reprinted with permission from kaisernetwork.org. You can view the entire Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report, search the archives, and sign up for email delivery at kaisernetwork.org/email . The Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report is published for kaisernetwork.org, a free service of The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. © 2007 Advisory Board Company and Kaiser Family Foundation. All rights reserved.