Unbiased Analysis of Today's Healthcare Issues

Trends in Cancer Care Near the End of Life

The Dartmouth Atlas released a new report describing how end-of-life cancer care is changing over time. Their analysis uses data from a 20 percent sample of all Medicare beneficiaries who died between the ages of 66 and 99 years during 2010, who had cancer diagnosis with a poor prognosis. The authors find that: Deaths in […]

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Why is end-of-life spending so high?

The answer is because using more intensive services does reduce mortality. This is the finding of a recent JAMA paper. After controlling for patient case mix, the authors examine variation in hospital spending in the last year of a patient’s life. The authors note that “Higher-spending hospitals differed in many ways, such as greater use […]

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The Value of End-of-Life Medical Care

Some estimates claim that one-quarter of life-time spending on medical care occurs in the last year of an individual’s life.  Conventional wisdom says this is inefficient, but a paper by Philipson, Becker, Goldman and Murphy (2010) disagrees.  Individuals at the end of their life place very high value on terminal medical care for the following […]

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Does Hospice Care Reduce Medicare’s cost for end-of-life care?

Historically, Medicare recipients in their final year of life generated about six times the expenditures of the average surviving Medicare enrollee and accounted for almost 30 percent of total program spending. However, in the late 1980s, a confluence of two forces helped increase the use of hospice care among Medicare beneficiaries. First, in 1984, Medicare […]

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