Contact: Joe Martin
FOR OLDER PENNSYLVANIANS, ALCOHOL IS THE LEADING CAUSE OF SUBSTANCE-RELATED HOSPITALIZATIONS AND EMERGENCY DEPARTMENT VISITS
Harrisburg, PA – November 20, 2019 – According to a new financial brief released today by the Pennsylvania Health Care Cost Containment Council (PHC4), there were 7,833 hospitalizations and emergency department visits specifically for substance use among Pennsylvania residents age 65 and older (who were enrolled in the Medicare fee-for-service program) during the three-year period 2016, 2017, and 2018. The cost was $26.8 million.
Alcohol was the leading cause of the substance-related admissions and emergency department visitsâin number and cost. Alcohol made up 61% of the cases (4,816 out of 7,833) and 49% of the costs ($13.2 million out of $26.8 million). Opioids had the second highest percentages at 22% of the cases (1,735 cases) and 29% of the costs ($7.8 million).
âBy focusing on Pennsylvaniaâs older residents, weâre hoping to raise awareness on how substance use, alcohol in particular, affects this population,â said Joe Martin, PHC4âs Executive Director. âProviding data by county can help communities understand needs at the local level,â added Martin.
Other Report Highlights:
- Of the 7,833 substance-related admissions and emergency department visits, 21% were overdose cases; 79% were substance dependence or abuse cases.
- On average, during the three-year period, there were seven hospital admissions or emergency department visits per day for substance use; the average cost was $24,438 per day.
- Hospital admissions comprised 91% of the costs ($24.5 million out of $26.8 million) for the three-year period. Payments to emergency department visits amounted to $2.3 million (or 9% of the overall cost of $26.8 million).
- Examining population-based rates, the brief notes that, statewide, there were 6.1 substance-related admissions or emergency department visits per 1,000 Pennsylvania Medicare fee-for-service enrollees age 65 and older during the three-year period 2016-2018. The rates for black (non-Hispanic), Hispanic, white (non-Hispanic), and Asian residents were 21.7, 9.4, 5.1 and 2.7, respectively. Males had a higher rate (8.9) than females (3.8). The rate for residents living in higher poverty areas was 15.6.
- County-level population-based rates are also included in the brief.
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.