Hospital costs in California are growing at almost twice the rate of the national average, largely because of a worsening nursing shortage in the state and overuse of costly medical technology, according to a new report by Blue Shield of California and the national Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association. Expenditures for inpatient services in California rose at an annual rate of 11.3% from 1998 to 2001, almost twice the national average of 5.9% and nearly four times the general inflation rate of 2.9%, the report said. The average inpatient cost per health plan member was 45% higher in California than the national average, even after adjustments were made for case mix to offset the possibility California hospitals treat higher acuity patients. California's cost-per-discharge exceeded $47,000 in more than 13% of cases in 2000, compared with 5% of cases nationally. California ranked 49th in terms of nurses per capita in 2000 and is expected to see its number of unfilled nursing positions double by 2005. -- by Laura B. Benko
Nursing shortage fuels Calif.'s hospital inflation
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