Number of Patients Using Hospice Care Grows to 1.58 Million says Study

The number of patients using hospice services reached an estimated 1.58 million in 2010 according to a new study released by the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization.

Usage is increasing so much that the study estimates 41.9% of all deaths in the United States were under the care of a hospice program.

As the number of people using hospice has grown, so has the reliance on Medicare to pay for such services. According to the report, of all Medicare decedents in the year 2001, 18.8% accessed hospice for three or more days . By 2007 the proportion of Medicare decedents accessing three or more days of hospice services had increased to 30.1%.

The predominate source of payment for hospice is Medicare, which covered an estimated 83.8% of all payments said the report.

The majority of the care is being provided in the patients home, with 66.7% of patients received care at home. The percentage of hospice patients receiving care in a hospice inpatient facility increased slightly from 21.2% to 21.9%.

As the number of patients increases, the number of companies has increased to 5,150 in 2010. The industry is mostly made up of free standing/independent agencies at 58% in 2012. Home health agencies are providing roughly 19% of all the care according to the report.

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The increasing usage doesn’t come as any surprise to companies like Harden Healthcare, a hospice provider that is based in Austin, Tx.

“The findings in this report support what we see every day,” said Lew Little, chief executive officer of Harden Healthcare. “An increasing number of patients and their families are realizing the unique blend of clinical, social and spiritual support services that hospice care provides.”

View a copy of the report here.

Written by John Yedinak