Longer Periods Of Hospice Service Associated With Lower End-Of-Life Spending In Regions With High Expenditures
Author: Shiyi Wang, Sylvia H. Hsu, Siwan Huang, Pamela R. Soulos, Cary P. Gross
Hospice use is expected to decrease end-of-life expenditures, yet evidence for its financial impact remains inconclusive. One potential explanation is that the use of hospice may produce differential cost-savings effects by region because of geographic variation in end-of-life spending patterns. We examined 103,745 elderly Medicare fee-for-service beneficiaries in the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results Program Medicare database who died from cancer in 2004–11. We created quintiles by the adjusted mean end-of-life expenditures per hospital referral region (HRR), and we examined HRR-level variation in the association between length of hospice service and expenditures across quintiles. 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. Hospice use accounted for 8 percent of the expenditure variation between the highest and the lowest spending quintiles, which demonstrates the powers and limitations of hospice use for saving on costs.