Tuesday, March 26, 2013

New Research Validates that Hospice Saves Medicare Dollars

New Research Validates that Hospice Saves Medicare Dollars

NHPCO released an excellent article highlighting a study about the benefits of hospice care and its ability to improve the quality of life. Not only did the article talk about how hospice improves the quality of life, but it also discussed how hospice saves Medicare dollars. Did you know the average person spends about $39,000 on aggressive treatments at the end of life according to CNN Money? Did you know many hospices provide care regardless of a patient’s ability to pay? Sometimes people feel that paying a really high price means they are paying for the best care available when that care may not be what a loved one even wants. How do we decide when aggressive treatment or when quality of life is the route to go?
The NHPCO’s article helps people understand that sometimes less is more in terms of the cost of care. Like previously mentioned, many hospices provide care regardless of patient’s ability to pay and focuses on quality of life rather than length of life. This may strike a question, then how does it save Medicare dollars? Great question! Even when patients are not charged, someone has to cover these services and Medicare is the biggest source of funding for hospice organizations, for-profit and not-for-profits alike. With this said, below are the highlights from the study which can be reviewed in detail, click here.
“Despite its demonstrated potential to both improve quality of care and lower costs, the Medicare hospice benefit has been seen as producing savings only for patients enrolled 53–105 days before death. Using data from the Health and Retirement Study, 2002–08, and individual Medicare claims, and overcoming limitations of previous work, we found $2,561 in savings to Medicare for each patient enrolled in hospice 53–105 days before death, compared to a matched, non hospice control. Even higher savings were seen, however, with more common, shorter enrollment periods: $2,650, $5,040, and $6,430 per patient enrolled 1–7, 8–14, and 15–30 days prior to death, respectively. Within all periods examined, hospice patients also had significantly lower rates of hospital service use and in-hospital death than matched controls. Instead of attempting to limit Medicare hospice participation, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services should focus on ensuring the timely enrollment of qualified patients who desire the benefit." (Health Affairs, 2013)
(NHPCO 2011 Facts & Figures Report)

            What does this all mean? Overall it means to save money and receive the best care available, when desired, patients should enroll at the earliest time possible into hospice care to receive the overall benefit of the best quality of life possible and saving themselves money, as well as saving Medicare dollars. Keep these facts in mind when hospice touches your life. Call 24/7 to get your questions answered, 1-800-233-1708.
Help us share, educate, and reach out by subscribing to our blog and suggesting it to friends who will spread our message: Hospice of Southern Illinois is here to teach you what hospice is, what we are about, and what we can do for you and your loved ones. No one has to go through the dying process alone. Hospice of Southern Illinois can help.

Live well, laugh often, and love much,
Christine Juehne
Hospice of Southern Illinois
Community Education

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