Hospice Utilization Continues to Decline Nationwide

Among Medicare-eligible patients, hospice utilization has been declining for years.

Specifically, hospice utilization among Medicare-eligible patients nationwide totaled about 2.55% in 2015, down from 2.59% in 2014 and 2.67% in 2013, according to a new analysis from Healthcare Market Resources.

The Pennsylvania-based health care market intelligence firm calculated hospice utilization by dividing the number of hospice patients served in each state by the total Medicare eligible population in each state.

Only 11 states—Alabama, Arkansas, California, Hawaii, Indiana, Maine, Nebraska, North Carolina, Tennessee, Vermont and West Virginia—experienced increased hospice utilization from 2014 to 2015, the analysis reveals. That’s down from the 17 states that experienced hospice utilization growth from 2013 to 2014.

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Additionally, just two of the states that experienced increased hospice utilization from 2014 to 2015 had growth in excess of 2%, the analysis shows.

Meanwhile, 11 states showed hospice utilization declines greater than 5% from 2014 to 2015. Two of these states—Alaska and Wyoming—experienced declines higher than 11%.

Hospice utilization will likely fall even more in 2017 due to heightened regulatory pressure and a new payment system that disincentivizes long-term patients, Healthcare Market Resources predicts.

Written by Mary Kate Nelson