One measure of serious health risk is the amount of time people spend as patients in hospitals. There are areas in the US where on average one in every two people spends a day in the hospital each year. There are places where the average is one in every five people.
I don’t know about you, but the only way I’d like to spend a lot of time in a hospital is if I worked there.
Hospitals report various numbers to the Federal government. One if these is total “patient days” — the sum of days admitted for all patients over a year. If we divide that by the state population, that gives us a ratio of patient days per resident.
Obviously, this isn’t a perfect measure. There are areas such as New Jersey where patients may cross state boundaries for hospital care. Despite these limitations, the measure is instructive.
The best states (lowest hospital utilization) are
- Wyoming (.22 days per resident)
- Idaho (.27)
- Utah (.27)
- Vermont (.29)
The worst states/locations are
- Washington, DC (.89)
- Kentucky (.59)
- New York (.59)
- Alabama (.58)
- Tennessee (.57)
Hospitals also report gross revenue from patient admissions. The national average per state resident (not per patient) is $9,069 spent on hospital care. Alabama, one of the poorest states in the US, spends $10,344 per resident on hospital care — much of that money coming from the Federal government.
Poverty, ignorance, crime, tobacco and drug abuse go together and probably explain the high rates of hospitalization in these areas.
- American Hospital Directory, “Hospital Statistics by State”. https://www.ahd.com/state_statistics.html
- US Census Bureau