Background. Data for this study came from South Carolina 1995 Hospital Inpatient Encounter Data Base. The population figures were 1995 South Carolina population estimates. Methods. We examined patient sociodemographic characteristics and costs associated with adult and pediatric ambulatory care sensitive condition (ACSC) hospitalization in South Carolina. Bivariate statistical comparisons were done to test the differences between ACSC and non-ACSC groups in specific sociodemographic characteristics. Logistic regression determined the relative significance of individual characteristics to hospitalizations for ACSC. Cost/charge ratios were used to estimate costs associated with ACSC hospitalizations. Results. Nonwhites, low-income individuals, and those residing in more rural areas had significantly more ACSC hospitalizations than their respective counterparts (ie, whites, high- income individuals, and those residing in metropolitan statistical areas). Individuals without a primary care physician were more likely to be hospitalized with ACSC. Ambulatory care sensitive condition hospitalization charges were 12% of total hospital charges for adults and 20% for children. The average cost per ACSC hospitalization was $3,929 for adults and $1,818 for children. Conclusion. Providers can rapidly assess needs and barriers faced by vulnerable population groups by using regularly collected hospital discharge data at the national, state, and community level.
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