Short-term rehospitalization across the spectrum of age and insurance types in the United States

PLoS One. 2017 Jul 10;12(7):e0180767. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0180767. eCollection 2017.


Few studies have examined rates and causes of short-term readmissions among adults across age and insurance types. We compared rates, characteristics, and costs of 30-day readmission after all-cause hospitalizations across insurance types in the US. We retrospectively evaluated alive patients ≥18 years old, discharged for any cause, 1/1/13-11/31/13, 2006 non-federal hospitals in 21 states in the Nationwide Readmissions Database. The primary stratification variable of interest was primary insurance. Comorbid conditions were assessed based on Elixhauser comorbidities, as defined by administrative billing codes. Additional measures included diagnoses for index hospitalizations leading to rehospitalization. Hierarchical multivariable logistic regression models, with hospital site as a random effect, were used to calculate the adjusted odds of 30-day readmissions by age group and insurance categories. Cost and discharge estimates were weighted per NRD procedures to reflect a nationally representative sample. Diagnoses for index hospitalizations leading to rehospitalization were determined. Among 12,533,551 discharges, 1,818,093 (14.5%) resulted in readmission within 30 days. Medicaid insurance was associated with the highest adjusted odds ratio (AOR) for readmission both in those ≥65 years old (AOR 1.12, 95%CI 1.10-1.14; p <0.001), and 45-64 (AOR 1.67, 95% CI 1.66-1.69; p < 0.001), and Medicare in the 18-44 group (Medicare vs. private insurance: AOR 1.99, 95% CI 1.96-2.01; p <0.001). Discharges for psychiatric or substance abuse disorders, septicemia, and heart failure accounted for the largest numbers of readmissions, with readmission rates of 24.0%, 17.9%, 22.9% respectively. Total costs for readmissions were 50.7 billion USD, highest for Medicare (29.6 billion USD), with non-Medicare costs exceeding 21 billion USD. While Medicare readmissions account for more than half of the total burden of readmissions, costs of non-Medicare readmissions are nonetheless substantial. Medicaid patients have the highest odds of readmission in individuals older than age 44, commonly due to hospitalizations for psychiatric illness and substance abuse disorders. Medicaid patients represent a population at uniquely high risk for readmission.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Insurance / economics
  • Insurance / statistics & numerical data
  • Male
  • Medicaid / economics
  • Medicare / economics
  • Medicare / statistics & numerical data
  • Middle Aged
  • Patient Discharge / economics
  • Patient Discharge / statistics & numerical data
  • Patient Readmission / economics*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • United States