PHC4 Research Brief - Hospitalizations for Depression in Pennsylvania - News Release


Contact: Joe Martin, Communications Director
717-232-6787 or


Harrisburg, PA - September 23, 2005 - Last year, hospital charges for depression in the Commonwealth topped $552 million, according to a new report from the Pennsylvania Health Care Cost Containment Council (PHC4). These charges were for 48,590 hospital admissions that resulted in an inpatient stay, and where depression was the primary diagnosis (reason for admission).

"Depression is a leading cause of workplace absenteeism and disability, and its negative impact on productivity is supported by the findings of this research brief," said Marc P. Volavka, Executive Director of PHC4. "Forty-four percent of patients were of prime working age from 30 to 49 years old."

In 2004, hospitalizations due to depression amounted to 361,017 days and have been on the rise, increasing from 22.9 admissions per 10,000 residents in 1994 to 29.9 per 10,000 in 2004. The average length of stay was 7.4 days with an average charge of $11,369. Most of the hospitalizations were billed to either commercial (private sector) insurance (41 percent) or Medical Assistance (34 percent).

While women experience depression twice as often as men, the rates of hospitalization in Pennsylvania do not reflect that fact. In 2004, 53 percent of all hospital admissions for depression in Pennsylvania were females.

"Our analysis of readmission data for 2003 shows that eighteen percent of all hospitalizations with a primary diagnosis of depression resulted in at least one readmission within 30 days, and of those readmitted, 26 percent returned more than once within 30 days," noted Volavka.

"The half billion in direct hospital costs don’t begin to tell the full story for employers and employees," said Volavka.

Although this report focuses on hospital admissions in which depression was the main reason for the hospitalization, many more patients were admitted with a secondary diagnosis. Out of the nearly 1.9 million inpatient records in Pennsylvania hospitals for 2004, 9.2 percent had a primary or secondary diagnosis of depression.

The Pennsylvania Health Care Cost Containment Council is an independent state agency charged with collecting, analyzing and reporting information that can be used to improve the quality and restrain the cost of health care in Pennsylvania. Copies of the new research brief, Hospitalizations for Depression in Pennsylvania, are free and available on the Council's website at or by calling PHC4 at 717-232-6787.