Study: Pollution-Related Illness Led To $193M in Calif. Hospital Spending
Asthma, pneumonia and other pollution-related health problems contributed to $193 million in California hospital spending between 2005 and 2007, according to a Rand study published Tuesday, the Sacramento Bee reports (Calvan, Sacramento Bee, 3/2).
For the study, researchers analyzed treatment at more than 400 California hospitals for conditions linked to air pollution.
Researchers found that three-quarters of the health problems analyzed were the result of high levels of fine particulate pollution, in which small quantities of soot get trapped in the lungs. One-quarter of the analyzed conditions were triggered by breathing ozone.
The study found that pollution-related conditions led to 29,808 emergency department visits and hospital admissions over the three year period. It noted that more than 12,000 ED visits were related to asthma for children younger than age 17 (Fimrite, San Francisco Chronicle, 3/2).
Researchers noted that hospital admissions for acute bronchitis, pneumonia and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease were the most costly pollution-related conditions, accounting for nearly one-third of the total health care spending (Steinberg, San Bernardino County Sun, 3/2).
The study also found that Medicare and Medi-Cal are covering two-thirds of the health costs related to poor air quality. Medi-Cal is California's Medicaid program.
The other third of the cost is being covered by commercial insurers and other private sources (Sacramento Bee, 3/2).
Los Angeles County had the highest amount of pollution-related health spending, accounting for 43% of the state's total expenditures.
The counties with the next highest spending levels for pollution-related health problems were:
- Orange County;
- San Bernardino County;
- Riverside County; and
- Sacramento County (San Bernardino County Sun, 3/2).