Emergency Department Visits by and Hospitalizations of Senior Diabetics in the Three Years Following Hurricanes Katrina and Rita
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While prior studies have investigated health care utilization immediately following disasters, few have examined utilization beyond that period. We use individual-level U.S. Medicare claims data for three years prior to (2002–2004) and after (2006–2008) Hurricanes Katrina and Rita to investigate whether senior diabetics affected by the storms had a greater number of emergency department visits and days hospitalized in the three years following the storms. An event study was conducted using regression analysis that controlled for all fixed individual characteristics. While the 2006 and 2007 rates of increase in utilization were relatively similar across the control group and the two affected groups, in 2008 the affected groups exhibited substantially greater increases in both emergency department visits and days hospitalized. The differences correspond to an additional 380,907 days hospitalized and 21,583 emergency department visits in 2008. The results indicate that, in addition to short term effects previously estimated, disasters may have longer term effects on utilization of healthcare services. These potential effects suggest that improved post-disaster care may significantly reduce the healthcare costs of disasters.
KeywordsHurricanes Diabetes Medicare Healthcare utilization
Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services
Federal Emergency Management Agency
JEL ClassificationH84 I13 I18
Supported by the National Institute on Aging of the National Institutes of Health under award number R03AG050065-02. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health.
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