Cities with the worst pollution in the US have more hospital admissions for respiratory conditions. There's increasing proof for a tie between environmental pollution and public health. Now doctors at the University of California report upon the effect of air pollution on Medicare costs in a large group of the population.
They looked at medical records and pollution measures in 185 metropolitan areas. They found that there was little difference in surgery rates between cities with the most pollution and those with the least. But there was a 20% difference in admissions to hospital for respiratory conditions. The difference in inpatient care was seven per cent between high-pollution areas and low-pollution areas, but 23% for inpatient care.
The researchers caution that their study does not mean that air pollution causes respiratory disease. But it does propose that pollution reduction would have the benefit of reducing healthcare costs.