A comparative analysis of hospital readmissions in France and the US
Policymakers in the US and France are struggling to improve coordination among
hospitals and other health care providers. A comparison of hospital readmission rates, and the factors that may explain them, can provide important insights about the French and US health care systems. In addition, it illustrates a methodological approach to comparative research: how an empirical inquiry along a single indicator can reveal broader issues about system-wide differences across health care systems and policy. Using data from three French regions, the article extends a
previous national-level comparison indicating that rates of hospital readmission for the population aged 65+ are lower in France than in the US. In addition, we extend the range of variables available in the national comparison by drawing on neighborhood-level income data available from a previous study of access to primary care among three French regions. Within France, the odds of surgical hospital readmission are significantly lower in private for-profit hospitals compared with public hospitals. Patients who live in lower income neighborhoods are also more likely to be readmitted for medical and surgical conditions than are patients living in higher income neighborhoods, but this income effect is weaker than in the US. The article concludes with a discussion of how these findings reflect broader system-wide differences between the US and French health systems and the ways in which policymakers attempt to coordinate hospitals and community based services.