Increased Use Of Hospice Care, Driving Up Healthcare Costs

May 11, 2015

Brown University researchers have found that the increasing use of hospice care at the end of life has increased health care spending. That’s contrary to what experts expected.

Hospice is for patients with a terminal illness who are ready to forgo more aggressive treatments. It’s supposed to be less expensive. But Brown University researcher Pedro Gozalo says the numbers tell a different story. He found more people entering hospice, staying longer, and driving up costs. Gozalo said he supports the use of hospice care.

“In fact I am for more hospice, but better use,” said Gozalo. “It’s a matter of efficiency. It’s not a matter of less.”

Gozalo and colleagues reviewed Medicare data on hundreds of thousands of older beneficiaries. They found that hospice users received less aggressive treatments. But they may be entering hospice too early to result in savings.

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