July 24, 2008 8:28AM

Excessive Cold vs. Excessive Heat: Costs of Hospitalization

By Indur M. Goklany

“Excessive Heat Can Run up Hospitals’ Bad Debt Expense for Treating the Uninsured: Report,” trumpeted a trade publication called Inside ARM (Inside Accounts Receivable Management).

The first paragraph informed us that, “ A report by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality suggests hospitals may find they are treating more uninsured patients suffering from heat exposure and exhaustion, resulting in more medical bad debt.”

Turns out that about 6,200 people were hospitalized in 2005 due to excessive heat and weather conditions, at an average cost of $6,200.

But in the penultimate paragraph of the report, we find out that 6,500 were hospitalized due to extreme cold weather conditions at an average cost of $12,500 per stay because the hospitals stays tended to be longer.

Final tally:

Hospitalization costs from exposure to extreme heat – $38.4 million

Hospitalization costs from exposure to extreme cold – $81.3 million.

Wonder what the numbers would have looked like, absent any global warming, which should have increased minimum temperatures more than maximum temperatures or, more importantly, had there been no greenhouse gas producing air conditioning or heating.