Families on TANF in South Carolina: Employment Assets and Liabilities. Chapter VII. Hospital Emergency Department Use and Hospitalization Among TANF Recipients

10/01/2004

In Chapters IV and V of the report, we concluded that physical and mental health problems were a major employment barrier among TANF recipients, and that these problems are most prevalent among certain sub-groups of TANF recipients, specifically those who are older, divorced or separated, and
white. In this chapter, we supplement the health findings from the surveys with data on hospital emergency department (ED) visits and hospital discharges. We compare the rates of emergency department visits and hospitalizations of the TANF caseload in South Carolina to the overall population, both in general and for specific health conditions. We also examine whether the data on emergency department visits and hospitalizations are consistent with our survey findings in terms of the sub-groups of TANF recipients most likely to have health problems.
 
Since 1994, the South Carolina Budget and Control Board’s Office of Research and Statistics (ORS) has partnered with the South Carolina Department of Social Services (SCDSS) in a variety of data management activities as well as in building a statistical “data warehouse”. South Carolina state agencies and private healthcare providers submit data on a regular basis to ORS, which has linked service and eligibility records over time to create an extensive database. Access to aggregate data for research purposes is provided through permission from the individual contributing agencies. SCDSS and ORS have further enhanced the capabilit ies of the state data warehouse by linking hospital inpatient and emergency department records to TANF records as part of this study.
 
To compile the data on TANF recipients, ORS conducted a match of open TANF cases in June 2002 against automated hospital in-patient and emergency department billing records. This match included hospital emergency department visits and hospital discharges for all persons in the TANF benefit group for the 11-month period between May 2001 and March 2002. Information was obtained on specific diagnostic categories from the emergency department admissions data and from the inpatient hospital discharge data.

 

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