Turbulence in Hospice Industry Led by Huge Shift Toward For-Profit

The hospice industry in the United States underwent a “turbulent” transition in a ten-year span as it shifted away from being a primarily nonprofit industry, according to a study published in the June 2012 issue of HealthAffairs. 

Study authors looked into Medicare-certified hospices active during 1999 and 2009 to spot major shifts and trends. 

“The most prominent trend was the shift in ownership type from nonprofit to for-profit ownership,” they wrote.

Hospice began as a primarily non-profit industry. In 1999, 62% of Medicare-certified hospice providers were nonprofits. Ten years later, in 2009, that number had decreased substantially to 35%, with more than half (52%) for-profit. 

Between 2000 and 2009, around 80% of the Medicare-certified providers entering the marketplace did so as for-profit providers. 

The study’s authors also found that 20% of hospices certified by Medicare that were active in 1999 had closed or withdrawn from the program by 2009, while more than 40% experienced one or more changes in ownership. 

Although the transition was called “turbulent” by the researchers, it doesn’t necessarily carry a negative impact, according to Don Schumacher, president and CEO of the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization. 

“It’s a part of what happens in all sectors of healthcare and that is when there is an opportunity, I guess, for there to be growth and change and an opportunity for healthcare dollars to be expended and made, the industry goes through transition,” he said to Healthcare Finance News

Rather, attention needs to be focused on the need for regulation in the industry, he says, calling for more government oversight.

Click here to access the study published in HealthAffairs.

Written by Alyssa Gerace

Alyssa Gerace

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