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D. A Study Reveals Financial Differences at Hospitals for Certain Patients

Narrator: This is Science Today. Elderly patients who have trouble performing basic tasks alone, such as walking or dressing, cost hospitals over 20 percent more than elderly patients who are functionally independent. What's more, these costs were not made up by Medicare reimbursement. Researcher Kenneth Chuang of the University of California, San Francisco's Veteran's Affairs Medical Center, led the study, says this study and says it revealed obvious financial differences.

Chuang: What this could lead to and we do know if it is or not, is that hospitals could tend to either try and get people who are functionally dependent out of the hospital quicker to try to make up differences in cost, partially due to increased lengths of stay that you sometimes see in people who are more functionally independent. Or it could lead to discriminatory practices in one way or another.

Narrator: Chuang says since this was a one-hospital study, similar studies need to be conducted in other hospitals to confirm this.

Chuang: Ways to resolve these inequities may become more apparent after that.

Narrator: For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.