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Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2016, 13(9), 894; doi:10.3390/ijerph13090894

Economic Burden of Hospitalizations for Heat-Related Illnesses in the United States, 2001–2010

1
ASPPH/EPA Environmental Health Fellowship Program at the United States Environmental Protection Agency, Office of Research and Development, National Center for Environmental Assessment, Washington, DC 20001, USA
2
National Center for Disaster Preparedness, Earth Institute, Columbia University, New York, NY 10027, USA
3
United States Environmental Protection Agency, Office of Research and Development, National Center for Environmental Assessment, Washington, DC 20460, USA
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Jan C. Semenza
Received: 30 July 2016 / Revised: 25 August 2016 / Accepted: 29 August 2016 / Published: 8 September 2016
(This article belongs to the Collection Climate Change and Human Health)
View Full-Text   |   Download PDF [280 KB, uploaded 9 September 2016]

Abstract

Understanding how heat waves affect morbidity and mortality, as well as the associated economic costs, is essential for characterizing the human health impacts of extreme heat under a changing climate. Only a handful of studies have examined healthcare costs associated with exposures to high temperatures. This research explores costs associated with hospitalizations for heat-related illness (HRI) in the United States using the 2001 to 2010 Nationwide Inpatient Sample (NIS). Descriptive statistics of patient data for HRI hospitalizations were examined and costs of hospitalizations were reported using the all-payer inpatient cost-to-charge ratio. Costs were examined using a log-gamma model with patient and hospital characteristics included as fixed effects. Adjusted mean costs were then compared across racial groups. The mean costs of HRI hospitalizations were higher among racial/ethnic minorities compared to Whites, who accounted for almost 65% of all HRI hospitalizations. Observed differences in costs based on income, insurance, and gender were also significant. These results suggest that these populations are suffering disproportionately from health inequity, thus, they could shoulder greater disease and financial burdens due to climate change. These findings may have important implications in understanding the economic impact public health planning and interventions will have on preventing hospitalizations related to extreme heat. View Full-Text
Keywords: climate change; health equity; heat-related illness; hospitalizations; economic cost; racial disparities climate change; health equity; heat-related illness; hospitalizations; economic cost; racial disparities
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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MDPI and ACS Style

Schmeltz, M.T.; Petkova, E.P.; Gamble, J.L. Economic Burden of Hospitalizations for Heat-Related Illnesses in the United States, 2001–2010. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2016, 13, 894.

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