9 months ago by Bob Gough
Study authors suggest that investment in the Medicare Hospice Benefit translates into savings overall for the Medicare system
New research shows hospice care saves taxpayer dollars and improves care quality for Medicare beneficiaries. But locally, more patients could take advantage of this end-of-life care.
“The results of this study point to the important opportunity we have in this community to improve the available support and quality of life for individuals and their loved ones facing the end of life, while most effectively using Medicare dollars,” said Jeri Conboy, director, Blessing Hospice & Palliative Care.
Researchers from the Brookdale Department of Geriatrics and Palliative Medicine at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mt. Sinai, New York, looked at the most common hospice enrollment periods: 1 to 7 days, 8 to 14 days, 15 to 30 days, and 53 to 105 days. Within all enrollment periods studied, hospice patients had significantly lower rates of hospital and intensive care use, hospital readmissions, and in-hospital death when compared to non-hospice patients.
Study authors suggest that investment in the Medicare Hospice Benefit translates into savings overall for the Medicare system.
“If 1,000 additional beneficiaries enrolled in hospice 15 to 30 days prior to death, Medicare could save more than $6.4 million,” researchers stated in the report. “In addition, reductions in the use of hospital services at the end of life both contribute to these savings and potentially improve quality of care and patients’ quality of life.”
The National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization (NHPCO) says the new study adds to the growing amount of research that reinforces the value of hospice care in terms of quality and cost savings.
“While the results of this study focus on reductions in health care costs, it reinforces that we have a resource that helps people die where most of us say we want to – in our own home,” Conboy stated.
“The use of hospice care in our community is much lower than the national average, meaning we don’t take full advantage of the benefit available to us,” she continued. “We have a challenge to make the best of this opportunity and use Blessing Hospice care as soon as possible rather than waiting until the final few days of life.”
Patients may enroll in Blessing Hospice as soon as their doctor determines they have six months or less to live.
NHPCO reports that more than 44 percent of dying Americans were cared for by hospice in 2011. Among these patients, 84 percent of hospice care was paid for through the Medicare hospice benefit.
Blessing Hospital Public Relations provided information for this report.