Delaware hospital bill doubled over past decade

Delawareans spent more than $2.53 billion in hospital bills in 2009, twice as much as 2001 according to a new report from the Delaware Division of Public Health.

The Hospital Discharge Summary Report is a snapshot of health care in Delaware, with information on everything from the Cesarean delivery rate to how many patients left the hospital against doctor’s orders.  

As for those two statistics, the number of Cesareans is up at every hospital in the First State since 1994.  In 2009, 34.8 of every 100 deliveries were Cesarean.  And as far as patients leaving the hospital against medical advice, just one percent of all patients did that in 2009.

The numbers will be used to determine the best ways to keep Delawareans from getting sick.  Director of the Delaware Division of Public Health Dr. Karyl Rattay says the division “Is focused on helping Delawareans prevent disease, and therefore reducing the rates of hospitalization and emergency department visits.”

Nearly 113,000 people were discharged from Delaware hospitals in 2009.  The number one cause of hospitalization (15%) was related to heart trouble, including congestive heart failure, coronary artery disease, irregular heart beat, heart attack and stroke.  Twelve percent of all hospitalizations were due to pregnancy and childbirth, while 11 percent were related to respiratory diseases including pneumonia, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and asthma.

The average patient in a Delaware hospital spent less than five days there and was charged more than $22,000.  Medicare and Medicaid were billed for 62 percent of all hospital stays, while private insurance was billed for 33 percent, and the remaining five percent was charged to other programs or to the patient.  More than five percent of patients between 18 and 44 years old had no health insurance coverage.

You can find more details in the full 79-page report, which is posted on the state’s website.

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