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Contact: Joe Martin
717-232-6787 or


Harrisburg, PA – March 28, 2019 – According to a new research brief released today by the Pennsylvania Health Care Cost Containment Council (PHC4), the number of influenza hospitalizations in Pennsylvania increased from 5,328 in FY 2017 to 8,647 in FY 2018—a 62% increase. The most recent five-year trend, from FY 2014 to FY 2018, shows substantial variation in the number of hospital admissions for influenza—a pattern that is similar to national trends.

The brief focuses, in particular, on influenza admissions in FY 2018 for Pennsylvania residents aged 65 and older and those under age 18—two segments of the population at high risk of developing influenza-related complications that can result in hospitalization. Most influenza hospitalizations were for patients aged 65 and older (5,671 cases or 66% of all cases). There were 604 influenza admissions for children under age 18 (7% of all cases).

“This research brief shows that the flu can have serious consequences for our older and younger residents,” said Joe Martin, PHC4’s executive director.

On average, influenza patients aged 65 and older stayed in the hospital longer and had higher in-hospital mortality and readmission rates than patients under age 65. The average length of stay for patients aged 65 and older was 4.6 days, compared to 3.6 days for all other patients. The older patients had an in-hospital mortality rate of 1.7%, and 12.6% were readmitted to the hospital within 30 days. For all other patients, those figures were 0.4% and 10.4%, respectively.

For Medicare patients aged 65 and older, hospital payments amounted to an estimated $34 million.

For influenza patients under age 18, the average length of stay was 2.5 days. About 21% of these children lived in high poverty areas. Of the 604 children admitted for influenza, 362 (60%) were under age 5. Medicaid was the primary payer for 57.6% of influenza admissions for patients under age 18 amounting to an estimated $3 million in hospital payments.

Statewide, there were 67.5 influenza hospitalizations per 100,000 residents. County-specific rates are included in the brief. Average and total hospital payments are included at the county level for Medicare fee-for-service patients.

The brief is available on PHC4’s website at You can also link to it through social media on Facebook and Twitter.

PHC4 is an independent state agency charged with collecting, analyzing and reporting information that can be used to improve the quality and restrain the cost of health care in Pennsylvania.

225 Market Street, Suite 400
Harrisburg, PA 17101

Phone: (717) 232-6787
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