Medicaid Admissions and Readmissions: Understanding the Prevalence, Payment, and Most Common Diagnoses

Health Aff (Millwood). 2014 Aug;33(8):1337-44. doi: 10.1377/hlthaff.2013.0632.


Reducing hospital readmissions is a way to improve care and reduce avoidable costs. However, there have been few studies of readmissions in the Medicaid population. We sought to characterize acute care hospital admissions and thirty-day readmissions in the Medicaid population through a retrospective analysis in nineteen states. We found that Medicaid readmissions were both prevalent (9.4 percent of all admissions) and costly ($77 million per state) and that they represented 12.5 percent of Medicaid payments for all hospitalizations. Five diagnostic groups appeared to drive Medicaid readmissions, accounting for 57 percent of readmissions and 49 percent of hospital payments for readmissions. The most prevalent diagnostic categories were mental and behavioral disorders and diagnoses related to pregnancy, childbirth, and their complications, which together accounted for 31.2 percent of readmissions. This analysis, conducted through the Medicaid Medical Directors Learning Network, allows Medicaid medical directors to better understand the nature and prevalence of hospital use in the Medicaid population and provides a baseline for measuring improvement.

Keywords: Hospitals; Medicaid; Mental Health/Substance Abuse; Readmissions.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Hospital Costs*
  • Hospitalization / economics*
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Medicaid / economics
  • Mental Disorders / economics
  • Mental Disorders / epidemiology
  • Middle Aged
  • Patient Readmission / economics
  • Patient Readmission / statistics & numerical data*
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications / epidemiology
  • Prevalence
  • Retrospective Studies
  • United States
  • Young Adult