Phillip Reese of The Sacramento Bee found the number of million-dollar hospital stays in Northern California has risen from 430 in 2000 to almost 3,000 in 2010. He notes more complicated procedures have contributed to this increase. He starts his story:
“A million dollars can buy a mansion in one of Sacramento’s nicest neighborhoods, near its best schools and parks.
Or it can buy an ever-dwindling number of weeks in the intensive care unit of a local hospital.
Bradley Showalter, an Arden gas station attendant and laid-off construction manager, can’t afford either of those expenses, but the cancer eating his liver didn’t get the memo, so he’s steeling himself for a massive bill related to a future organ transplant.”
Today’s Tip: Contact the state health planning and development offices to get specific data on hospital usage and charges.
In California, the Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development tracks diagnoses, treatments, demographic information and charges statewide, Phillip says.
“It’s millions of records, mostly coded for standardization and brevity, so it can be a daunting dataset to use,” he says. “But it’s also chock full of stories.”
Phillip started dissecting the data with a query to determine how many hospital discharges resulted in million-dollar hospital stays. He ran a query on that data to determine the most common diagnoses and procedures that lead to million-dollar charges. And he looked at who would foot the bill: Medicaid, private insurance, etc.