What's Driving the Rise in Homeless Hospitalizations?

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In the United States, an estimated 553,000 people per night are homeless, meaning they lack fixed and reliable housing. Among this population, hospitalizations are on the rise, according to a December 2018 study in Medical Care.

The retrospective cohort study out of Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center followed homeless and non-homeless groups in Florida, California, and Massachusetts over a six-year period. According to the study authors’ analyses, there was a rise in hospital use among homeless individuals in all three states.

Researchers also found that most homeless adults were white, male, around 46 years old, and either insured by Medicaid or uninsured.

More than 50 percent of hospitalizations in the homeless group were for mental illness and substance abuse disorder, perhaps pointing to the impact of the opioid epidemic on these populations, compared with only 20 percent in the non-homeless group. Homeless folks also tended to have longer average hospital stays, but lower in-hospital mortality rates and lower average costs per day than the non-homeless group.

The study authors hypothesized that expanded Medicaid eligibility has improved access to care for homeless populations.

Sourced from: Medical Care