Background: At a population level, conversations between clinicians and seriously ill patients exploring patients’ goals and values can drive high-value healthcare, improving patient outcomes and reducing spending.
Methods: We examined the impact of a quality improvement intervention to drive better communication on total medical expenses in a high-risk care management program. We present our analysis of secondary expense outcomes from a prospective implementation trial of the Serious Illness Care Program, which includes clinician training, coaching, tools, and system interventions. We included patients who died between January 2014 and September 2016 who were selected for serious illness conversations, using the “Surprise Question,” as part of implementation of the program in fourteen primary care clinics.
Results: We evaluated 124 patients and observed no differences in total medical expenses between intervention and comparison clinic patients. When comparing patients in intervention clinics who did and did not have conversations, we observed lower average monthly expenses over the last 6 ($6297 vs. $8,876, p = 0.0363) and 3 months ($7263 vs. $11,406, p = 0.0237) of life for patients who had conversations.
Conclusions: Possible savings observed in this study are similar in magnitude to previous studies in advance care planning and specialty palliative care but occur earlier in the disease course and in the context of documented conversations and a comprehensive, interprofessional case management program.
Implications: Programs designed to drive more, earlier, and better serious illness communication hold the potential to reduce costs.
Objectives: Hospice use reduces costly aggressive end-of-life (EOL) care (eg, repeated hospitalizations, intensive care unit care, and emergency department visits). Nevertheless, associations between hospice stays and EOL expenditures in prior research have been inconsistent. We examined the differential associations between hospice stay duration and EOL expenditures among newly diagnosed patients with cancer, congestive heart failure (CHF), chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and dementia.
Methods: In the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results–Medicare data, we identified 240 246 decedents diagnosed with the aforementioned conditions during 2001 to 2013. We used zero-inflated negative binomial regression models to examine the differential associations between hospice length of services and EOL expenditures incurred during the last 90, 180, and 360 days of life.
Results: For the last 360 days of expenditures, hospice stays beyond 30 days were positively associated with expenditures for decedents with COPD, CHF, and dementia but were negatively associated for cancer decedents (all P<.001) after adjusting for demographic and medical covariates. In contrast, for the last 90 days of expenditures, hospice stay duration and expenditures were consistently negatively associated for each of the 4 patient disease groups.
Conclusions: Longer hospice stays were associated with lower 360-day expenditures for cancer patients but higher expenditures for other patients. We recommend that Medicare hospice payment reforms take distinct disease trajectories into account. The relationship between expenditures and hospice stay length also depended on the measurement duration, such that measuring expenditures for the last 6 months of life or less overstates the cost-saving benefit of lengthy hospice stays.
Background: Many people with terminal illness prefer to die in home-like settings—including care homes, hospices, or palliative care units—rather than an acute care hospital. Home-based palliative care services can increase the likelihood of death in a community setting, but the provision of these services may increase costs relative to usual care.
Objective: The aim of this study was to estimate the incremental cost per community death for persons enrolled in end-of-life home care in Ontario, Canada, who died between 2011 and 2015.
Methods: Using a population-based cohort of 50,068 older adults, we determined the total cost of care in the last 90 days of life, as well as the incremental cost to achieve an additional community death for persons enrolled in end-of-life home care, in comparison with propensity score–matched individuals under usual care (ie, did not receive home care services in the last 90 days of life).
Results: Recipients of end-of-life home care were nearly 3 times more likely to experience a community death than individuals not receiving home care services, and the incremental cost to achieve an additional community death through the provision of end-of-life home care was CAN$995 (95% confidence interval: -$547 to $2392).
Conclusion: Results suggest that a modest investment in end-of-life home care has the potential to improve the dying experience of community-dwelling older adults by enabling fewer deaths in acute care hospitals.
BACKGROUND: Patients with advanced cancer, receiving at-home palliative care, are subject to numerous symptoms that are changeable and often require attention, a stressful situation that also impacts on the family caregiver. It has been suggested that music therapy may benefit both the patient and the caregiver. We propose a study to analyse the efficacy and cost utility of a music intervention programme, applied as complementary therapy, for cancer patients in palliative care and for their at-home caregivers, compared to usual treatment.
METHOD: A randomised, double-blind, multicentre clinical trial will be performed in cancer patients in at-home palliative care and their family caregivers. The study population will include two samples of 40 patients and two samples of 41 caregivers. Participants will be randomly assigned either to the intervention group or to the control group. The intervention group will receive a seven-day programme including music sessions, while the control group will receive seven sessions of (spoken word) therapeutic education. In this study, the primary outcome measure is the assessment of patients' symptoms, according to the Edmonton Symptom Assessment System, and of the overload experienced by family caregivers, measured by the Caregiver Strain Index. The secondary outcomes considered will be the participants' health-related quality of life, their satisfaction with the intervention, and an economic valuation.
DISCUSSION: This study is expected to enhance our understanding of the efficacy and cost-utility of music therapy for cancer patients in palliative care and for their family caregivers. The results of this project are expected to be applicable and transferrable to usual clinical practice for patients in home palliative care and for their caregivers. The approach described can be incorporated as an additional therapeutic resource within comprehensive palliative care. To our knowledge, no previous high quality studies, based on a double-blind clinical trial, have been undertaken to evaluate the cost-effectiveness of music therapy. The cost-effectiveness of the project will provide information to support decision making, thereby improving the management of health resources and their use within the health system.
Background: African Americans receive more aggressive end-of-life care than Whites. Little is known about how palliative care consultation to discuss goals-of-care (“PCC”) is associated with acute care utilization and costs by race.
Objective: To compare future acute care costs and utilization between propensity-matched cohorts of African Americans with and without PCC, and Whites with and without PCC.
Design: Secondary analysis of a retrospective cohort study.
Setting/Subjects: Thirty-five thousand one hundred and fifty-four African Americans and Whites age 18+ admitted for conditions other than childbirth or rehabilitation, who were not hospitalized at the end of the study, and did not die during index hospitalization (hospitalization during which the first PCC occurred).
Measurements: Accumulated mean acute care costs and utilization (30-day readmissions, future hospital days, future intensive care unit [ICU] admission, future number of ICU days) after discharge from index hospitalization.
Results: No significant difference between African Americans with or without PCC in mean future acute care costs ($11,651 vs. $15,050, p = 0.09), 30-day readmissions (p = 0.58), future hospital days (p = 0.34), future ICU admission (p = 0.25), or future ICU days (p = 0.30). There were significant differences between Whites with PCC and those without PCC in mean future acute care costs ($8,095 vs. $16,799, p < 0.001), 30-day readmissions (10.2% vs. 16.7%, p < 0.0001), and future days hospitalized (3.7 vs. 6.3 days, p < 0.0001).
onclusions: PCC decreases future acute care costs and utilization in Whites and, directionally but not significantly, in African Americans. Research is needed to explain why utilization and cost disparities persist among African Americans despite PCC.
BACKGROUND: Psychological distress is highly prevalent among patients with metastatic colorectal cancer.
AIMS: To perform an economic evaluation of a combined screening and treatment program targeting psychological distress in patients with metastatic colorectal cancer in comparison with usual care.
DESIGN: Societal costs were collected alongside a cluster randomized controlled trial for 48 weeks. A total of 349 participants were included.
SETTING: Participants were recruited from oncology departments at 16 participating hospitals in the Netherlands.
METHODS: Outcome measures were the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale and quality-adjusted life-years. Missing data were imputed using multiple imputation. Uncertainty was estimated using bootstrapping. Cost-effectiveness planes and cost-effectiveness acceptability curves were estimated to show uncertainty surrounding the cost-effectiveness estimates. Sensitivity analyses were performed to check robustness of results.
RESULTS: Between treatment arms, no significant differences were found in Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale score (mean difference: -0.058; 95% confidence interval: -0.13 to 0.011), quality-adjusted life-years (mean difference: 0.042; 95% confidence interval: -0.015 to 0.099), and societal costs (mean difference: -1152; 95% confidence interval: -5058 to 2214). Cost-effectiveness acceptability curves showed that the probability of cost-effectiveness was 0.64 and 0.74 at willingness-to-pay values of €0 and €10,000 per point improvement on the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale, respectively. The probability that the intervention was cost-effective compared to usual care for quality-adjusted life-years was 0.64 and 0.79 at willingness-to-pay values of €0 and €20,000 per quality-adjusted life-year, respectively.
CONCLUSION: The intervention is dominant over usual care, primarily due to lower costs in the intervention group. However, there were no statistically significant differences in clinical effects and the uptake of the intervention was quite low. Therefore, widespread implementation cannot be recommended.
Background: Socioeconomic inequalities in access to, and utilization of medical care have been shown in many jurisdictions. However, the extent to which they exist at end-of-life (EOL) remains unclear.
Methods: Studies in MEDLINE, EMBASE, CINAHL, ProQuest, Web of Science, Web of Knowledge, and OpenGrey databases were searched through December 2019 with hand-searching of in-text citations. No publication date or language limitations were set. Studies assessing SES (e.g. income) in adults, correlated to EOL costs in last year(s) or month(s) of life were selected. Two independent reviewers performed data abstraction and quality assessment, with inconsistencies resolved by consensus.
Results: A total of twenty articles met eligibility criteria. Two meta-analyses were performed on studies that examined total costs in last year of life – the first examined costs without adjustments for confounders (n = 4), the second examined costs that adjusted for confounders, including comorbidities (n = 2). Among studies which did not adjust for comorbidities, SES was positively correlated with EOL costs (standardized mean difference, 0.13 [95% confidence interval, 0.03 to 0.24]). However, among studies adjusting for comorbidities, SES was inversely correlated with EOL expenditures (regression coefficient, -$150.94 [95% confidence interval, -$177.69 to -$124.19], 2015 United States Dollars (USD)). Higher ambulatory care and drug expenditure were consistently found among higher SES patients irrespective of whether or not comorbidity adjustment was employed.
Conclusion: Overall, an inequality leading to higher end-of-life expenditure for higher SES patients existed to varying extents, even within countries providing universal health care, with greatest differences seen for outpatient and prescription drug costs. The magnitude and directionality of the relationship in part depended on whether comorbidity risk-adjustment methodology was employed.
We assessed the trend of palliative care (PC) referrals and its effect on hospitalization cost and length of stay (LOS) in ruptured aortic aneurysm (rAA). The Nationwide Inpatient Sample from 2005 to 2014 was used to identify admissions with age =50 and rAA. A total of 54 134 rAA admissions were identified and 5019 (9.3%) had PC referrals. During the study period, PC referral rate increased from 0.97% to 15.3% (P trend < .0001). Length of stay (1.7 vs 2.8 days, adjusted mean ratio [aMR] = 0.62, 95% confidence interval [CI]: 0.58-0.66), and cost (US$7778 vs US$13 575, aMR = 0.57, 95% CI: 0.52-0.63) were significantly lower in rAA admissions that did not undergo interventions. In the percutaneous repair group, LOS was similar but the cost was higher (US$61 759 vs US$52 260, aMR = 1.18, 95% CI: 1.05-1.30), whereas in surgical repair group, LOS was shorter (4.6 vs 5.9 days, aMR = 0.77, 95% CI: 0.73-0.82) but the cost was higher (US$59 755 vs US$52 523, aMR = 1.14, 95% CI: 1.02-1.28). Palliative care could shorten LOS and save hospitalization cost in rAA admissions not a candidate for repair. Further studies are required to investigate the variable effects of PC on rAA.
Objective: In breast cancer patients, treatment at the end of life accounts for a major share of medical spending. However, little is known about the variability of cost trajectories between patients. This study aims to identify underlying latent groups of advanced breast cancer patients with similar cost trajectories over the last year before death.
Methods: data from deceased advanced breast cancer patients, diagnosed between 2010 and 2017, were retrieved from the Southeast Netherlands Advanced Breast Cancer (SONABRE) Registry. Costs of hospital care over the last twelve months before death were analyzed, and the variability of longitudinal patterns between patients were explored using group-based trajectory modeling. Descriptive statistics and multinomial logistic regression were applied to investigate differences between the identified latent groups.
Results: We included 558 patients. Over the last twelve months before death, mean hospital costs were €2,255 (SD = €492) per month. Costs increased over the last five months and reached a maximum of €3,614 in the last month of life, driven by hospital admissions, while spending for medication declined over the last three months of life. Based on patients’ individual cost trajectories, we identified six latent groups with distinct longitudinal patterns, of which only two showed a marked increase in costs over the last twelve months before death. Latent groups were constituted of heterogeneous patients, and clinical characteristics explained membership only to a limited extent.
Conclusions: The average costs of advanced breast cancer patients increased towards the end of life. However, we uncovered several latent groups of patients with divergent cost trajectories, which did not reflect the overall increasing trend. The mechanisms underlying the variability in cost trajectories warrants further research.
A dominant health policy narrative is that end-of-life (EOL) spending is a key driver of health care cost growth. Recent studies suggest that EOL care intensity is rising and that increased spending on hospice care costs more than it saves, raising concerns that per capita expenditures on EOL care might further accelerate.
Nonetheless, between 2000 and 2014, annual fee-for-service (FFS) Medicare spending growth was lower for decedents than for survivors, and real reductions in per capita Medicare FFS expenditures attributed to decedents accounted for most of Medicare’s cost growth mitigation between 2009 and 2014. We sought to determine whether that pattern has continued.
PURPOSE: This study evaluates whether an intervention to identify Canadian patients eligible for a palliative approach changes the use of health care resources and costs within the final month of life.
METHODS: Between 2014 and 2017, physicians identified 1,187 patients in family practice units and cancer centers who were likely to die within 1 year based on diagnosis, symptom assessment, and performance status. A multidisciplinary intervention that included activation of community resources and initiation of palliative planning was started. By using propensity-score matching, patients in the intervention group were matched 1:1 with nonintervention controls selected from provincial administrative data. We compared health care use and costs (using 2017 Canadian dollars) for 30 days before death between patients who died within the 1-year follow-up and matched controls.
RESULTS: Groups (n = 629 in each group) were well-balanced in sociodemographic characteristics, comorbidities, and previous health care use. In the last 30 days, there was no differences in proportions between the two groups of patients regarding emergency department visits, intensive care unit admissions, or inpatient hospitalizations. However, patients in the intervention group had greater use of palliative physician encounters, community home care visits, and/or physician home visits (92.8% v 88.4%; P = .007). In the 507 pairs with cancer, more patients in the intervention group underwent chemotherapy (44% v 33%; P < .001) and radiation (18.7% v 3.2%; P = .043) in the last 30 days. Mean cost per patient was similar for the intervention group (mean, $17,231; 95% CI, $16,027 to $18,436) and for the control group (mean, $16,951; 95% CI, $15,899 to $18,004).
CONCLUSION: Even with the limitations in our observational study design, identification of palliative patients did not significantly change overall costs but may shift resources toward palliative services.
RATIONALE: Even though Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) is a disease with high morbidity and mortality and no cure, palliative care is rarely implemented, leading to high symptom burden and unmet care needs. In 2012 we implemented a Multidisciplinary Collaborative (MDC) care model linking clinic and community multidisciplinary teams to provide an early-integrated palliative approach, focusing on early symptom management and advanced care planning (ACP).
OBJECTIVES: This study evaluates the differences in resource utilization and associated costs of end-of-life care between early-integrated palliative and conventionally treated IPF patients.
METHODS: Using administrative health data, we identified all patients in Alberta who presented to hospital with an IPF diagnosis between Jan 1, 2012 and Dec 31, 2018 and died within this timeframe. We compared 3 groups of patients: those who received (1) MDC care (our clinic patients), (2) specialist care (SC; respirologist), and (3) non-specialist care (NSC; no contact with a respiratory clinic). The primary outcomes were health care resource utilization and costs in the year before death.
RESULTS: Of 2,768 patients across three groups, MDC patients were over 3 times more likely to have received anti-fibrotic therapies over SC patients (OR=3.0; 95%CI 1.8-5.2), almost twice as likely to receive pulmonary rehab (OR=1.9; 95%CI 1.1-3.4) and 36% more likely to receive opiates (OR=1.4; 95%CI 0.8-2.3) in the last year of life. The median total health care costs in the last 3 months of life were approximately $7,700 CDN lower for MDC patients compared to those receiving specialist care, driven primarily by fewer hospitalizations and ED visits. MDC patients were also less likely to die in hospital (44.9% MDC vs 64.9% SC vs 66.8% NSC, p<0.001) and had the highest rates of no hospitalization in the last year of life.
CONCLUSIONS: An integrated palliative approach in IPF is associated with improvements in the quality of end-of-life care and reduction in costs. Transformation of care models is required to deliver a palliative approach in IPF. Multidisciplinary collaborative teams within such models can address the high burden of unmet needs for symptom management, advance care planning (ACP) and community support in this complex population.
OBJECTIVES: To estimate differences in spending and utilization between hospice users and non-users with lung cancer by length of hospice enrollment.
STUDY DESIGN: Retrospective analysis using 2009-2013 Medicare claims.
METHODS: The study sample was a 10% random sample of Medicare fee-for-service beneficiaries with lung cancer who died between 2010 and 2013. We identified different categories of hospice users (hospice enrollment for 1-7 days, 8-14 days, 15-30 days, 31-60 days, 61 days - 6 months) and non-users. We used propensity score matching to match users in each enrollment category with non-users. The outcomes were: a) total Medicare spending, b) number of hospitalizations, c) number of emergency department (ED) visits, d) number of physician-administered chemotherapy claims, and e) number of radiation therapy sessions. Regression analysis was used to compare outcomes between users and non-users by enrollment period.
RESULTS: Hospice users had significantly lower spending, fewer hospitalizations, and fewer ED visits than non-users across all categories of hospice enrollment. Large savings occurred when patients stayed in hospice for at least one month (US$16,566 for those enrolled 61 days - 6 months; US$16,409 for those enrolled 31-60 days). Significant reduction in use of outpatient services including chemotherapy and radiation therapy was observed among patients using hospice for at least 1 month.
CONCLUSIONS: Hospice led to cost savings by reducing utilization of aggressive care towards end-of-life among lung cancer patients. While cost savings were realized even when hospice is utilized for a short duration, large savings occurred when hospice is used for at least 1 month.
Palliative care (PC) is a multidisciplinary approach to managing patients who are seriously ill. The American College of Surgeons has recognized and advocated for PC, and PC improves symptom management and quality of life, reduces healthcare costs, and improves physician-patient communication.
Background: Economic analyses of end-of-life care often focus on single aspects of care in selected cohorts leading to limited knowledge on the total level of care required to patients at their end-of-life. We aim at describing the living situation and full range of health care provided to patients at their end-of-life, including how informal care affects formal health care provision, using the case of colorectal cancer.
Methods: All colorectal cancer decedents between 2009 and 2013 in Norway (n = 7695) were linked to six national registers. The registers included information on decedents’ living situation (days at home, in short- or long-term institution or in the hospital), their total health care utilization and costs in the secondary, primary and home- and community-based care setting. The effect of informal care was assessed through marital status (never married, currently married, or previously married) using regression analyses (negative binominal, two-part models and generalized linear models), controlling for age, gender, comorbidities, education, income, time since diagnosis and year of death.
Results: The average patient spent four months at home, while he or she spent 27 days in long-term institutions, 16 days in short-term institutions, and 21 days in the hospital. Of the total costs (~NOK 400,000), 58, 3 and 39% were from secondary carers (hospitals), primary carers (general practitioners and emergency rooms) and home- and community-based carers (home care and nursing homes), respectively. Compared to the never married, married patients spent 30 more days at home and utilized less home- and community-based care, but more health care services at the secondary and primary health care level. Their total healthcare costs were significantly lower (-NOK 65,621) than the never married. We found similar, but weaker, patterns for those who had been married previously.
Conclusion: End-of-life care is primarily provided in the secondary and home-and community-based care level, and informal caregivers have a substantial influence on formal end-of-life care provision. Excluding aspects of care such as home and community-based care or informal care in economic analyses of end-of-life care provides a biased picture of the total resources required, and might lead to inefficient resource allocations.
BACKGROUND: Hospice care has a positive effect on medical costs. The correlation between survival time after receiving hospice care and medical costs has not been previously investigated in the literature on Taiwan. This study aimed to compare the differences in medical costs between traditional care and hospice care among end-of-life patients with cancer.
METHODS: Data from Taiwan's National Health Insurance program on all patients who had passed away between 2010 and 2013 were used. Those whose year of death was between 2010 and 2013 were defined as end-of-life patients. The patients were divided into two groups: traditional care and hospice care. We then analyzed the differences in end-of-life medical cost between the two groups.
RESULTS: From 2010 to 2013, the proportion of patients receiving hospice care significantly increased from 22.2% to 41.30%. In the hospice group, compared with the traditional group, the proportions of hospital stays over 14 days and deaths in a hospital were significantly higher, but the proportions of outpatient clinic visits; emergency room admissions; intensive care unit admissions; use of ventilator; use of cardiopulmonary resuscitation; and use of hemodialysis, surgery, and chemotherapy were significantly lower. Total medical costs were significantly lower. A greater number of days of survival for end-of-life patients when receiving hospice care results in higher saved medical costs.
CONCLUSION: Hospice care can effectively save a large amount of end-of-life medical costs, and more medical costs are saved when patients are referred to hospice care earlier.
INTRODUCTION: Health care utilization of people with lung cancer (LC) the last year of life, their causes of death and place of death and the associated expenditure have been poorly described together. Then we conducted an observational study.
METHODS: People with LC covered by the French health Insurance general scheme (77% of the population) who died in 2015 were identified in the national health data system, together with their health care utilization and, in 95% of cases, their causes of death.
RESULTS: A total of 22,899 individuals were included (mean age: 68 years, SD±11.4), 72% of whom died in short-stay hospitals (SSH), 4% in hospital-at-home, 8% in Rehab hospital, 2% in skilled nursing homes and 14% at home. One-half of these people had also a chronic respiratory tract disease and 18% another cancer. Hospital palliative care (HPC) was identified for 65% of people, but for only 9% prior to their end-of-life stay. During the last month of life, 49% of people had two or more SSH stays, 15% were admitted to an intensive care unit, 23% received a chemotherapy session (13% during the last 14 days). The main cause of death was cancer for 92% of individuals (LC for 82%) The mean expenditure during the last year of life was €43,329 per individual.
DISCUSSION: This study indicates high rates of intensive care unit admissions and chemotherapy during the last month of life and a SSH hospital-centered management with intensive use of HPC mainly during the end-of-life stay.
Objective: To characterize the use of palliative care for patients with metastatic prostate cancer and identify its associations with costs, hospital course, and discharge.
Materials and Methods: Using the National Inpatient Sample database from 2012 to 2013, we identified 99 070 patients with metastatic prostate cancer and analyzed the data from their hospital admissions using descriptive statistics, 2 analysis, and regression modeling.
Results: Palliative care services were consulted in 10.4% (10 300) of metastatic prostate cancer admissions. These admissions were associated with nonelective origin, acute complications, and reduced surgical procedures and chemotherapy. Patients in private, investor-owned hospitals had a 51.6% less consultations (P < .001), while nonprofit and government, nonfederal hospitals had 4.7% and 7.8% more consultations (P < .001). Median costs and charges were only marginally less (2.1% and 5.6%, respectively, P < .001), length of stay was 22% higher (P < .001), and in-house mortality was 147.2% higher in the consultation group (P < .001). Controlling for other factors, patients seen by palliative care were more likely to have do-not-resuscitate orders (odds ratio [OR]: 5.25, P < .001) and be transferred to another facility like hospice (OR: 3.90, P < .001) or to home health (OR: 3.85, P < .001).
Conclusions: Palliative care consultation could improve care for patients with metastatic prostate cancer in a different manner than observed in other diseases. With our characterization of the incidence and patient and hospital factors, we can conclude that there is room to expand palliative care’s role beyond uninsured patients in large, urban teaching hospitals.
Background: Care costs rise towards the end of life. International comparison of service use, costs and care experiences can inform quality and improve access.
Aim: The aim of this study was to compare health and social care costs, quality and their drivers in the last 3 months of life for older adults across countries. Null hypothesis: no difference between countries.
Design: Mortality follow-back survey. Costs were calculated from carers’ reported service use and unit costs.
Setting: Palliative care services in England (London), Ireland (Dublin) and the United States (New York, San Francisco).
Participants: Informal carers of decedents who had received palliative care participated in the study.
Results: A total of 767 questionnaires were returned: 245 in England, 282 in Ireland and 240 in the United States. Mean care costs per person with cancer/non-cancer were US$37,250/US$37,376 (the United States), US$29,065/US$29,411 (Ireland), US$15,347/US$16,631 (England) and differed significantly (F = 25.79/14.27, p < 0.000). Cost distributions differed and were most homogeneous in England. In all countries, hospital care accounted for > 80% of total care costs; community care 6%–16%, palliative care 1%–15%; 10% of decedents used ~30% of total care costs. Being a high-cost user was associated with older age (>80 years), facing financial difficulties and poor experiences of home care, but not with having cancer or multimorbidity. Palliative care services consistently had the highest satisfaction.
Conclusion: Poverty and poor home care drove high costs, suggesting that improving community palliative care may improve care value, especially as palliative care expenditure was low. Major diagnostic variables were not cost drivers. Care costs in the United States were high and highly variable, suggesting that high-cost low-value care may be prevalent.
The National Cancer Institute estimates that $154 billion will be spent on care for people with cancer in 2019, distributed across the year after diagnosis (31%), the final year of life (31%), and continuing care between those two (38%). Projections of future costs estimate persistent growth in care expenditures. Early research studies on the economics of palliative care have reported a general pattern of cost savings during inpatient hospital admissions and the end-of-life phase. Recent research has demonstrated more complex dynamics, but expanding palliative care capacity to meet clinical guidelines and population health needs seems to save costs. Quantifying these cost savings requires additional research, because there is significant variance in estimates of the effects of treatment on costs, depending on the timing of intervention, the primary diagnosis, and the overall illness burden. Because ASCO guidelines state that palliative care should be provided concurrently with other treatment from the point of diagnosis onward for all metastatic cancer, new and ambitious research is required to evaluate the cost effects of palliative care across the entire disease trajectory. We propose a series of ways to reach the guideline goals.