Hospice Care Linked to Lower Health Care Spending

Parts of the United States with high medical service costs would do well to embrace more hospice care.

In fact, incentivizing hospice care in these regions may lower total health care costs nationwide, according to a study recently published in Health Affairs.

For the study, Shiyi Wang of the Yale University School of Public Health and colleagues analyzed data from 103,745 Medicare beneficiaries who died between 2004 and 2011 from nine types of cancer within three years of diagnosis.

Hospice use constituted 8% of the expenditure variation between the lowest and the highest spending quintiles, the study revealed, according to HealthLeaders Media.

The greatest economic benefit from hospice care comes from increasing its use in high-medical-service cost areas of the United States, the researchers determined.

“Longer periods of hospice service were associated with decreased end-of-life expenditures for patients residing in regions with high average expenditures, but not for those in regions with low average expenditures,” the researchers wrote, HealthLeaders Media reported.

The economic benefit of hospice care wasn’t as noticeable, meanwhile, in parts of the U.S. where medicine is practiced more sparingly.

Still, targeted cost-saving measures in high-medical-service cost regions could offer significant economic benefits nationwide—especially considering that end-of-life care costs account for a significant amount of Medicare costs per year, the researchers concluded.

Written by Mary Kate Nelson

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Mary Kate Nelson
Assistant Editor at Aging Media Network
When not in the newsroom, Mary Kate can reliably be found reading on her back porch, marathoning TV shows she’s already seen or overspending at Trader Joe’s.

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