The Economic Consequences of Hospital Admissions

Am Econ Rev. 2018 Feb;108(2):308-52.


We use an event study approach to examine the economic consequences of hospital admissions for adults in two datasets: survey data from the Health and Retirement Study, and hospitalization data linked to credit reports. For non-elderly adults with health insurance, hospital admissions increase out-of-pocket medical spending, unpaid medical bills, and bankruptcy, and reduce earnings, income, access to credit, and consumer borrowing. The earnings decline is substantial compared to the out-of-pocket spending increase, and is minimally insured prior to age-eligibility for Social Security Retirement Income. Relative to the insured non-elderly, the uninsured non-elderly experience much larger increases in unpaid medical bills and bankruptcy rates following a hospital admission. Hospital admissions trigger fewer than 5 percent of all bankruptcies in our sample.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Bankruptcy / economics*
  • Demography
  • Financing, Personal / economics*
  • Hospitalization / economics*
  • Humans
  • Insurance, Health
  • Medically Uninsured
  • Middle Aged
  • Patient Admission / economics*
  • United States