Costs skyrocket for ex-hospice patients, study finds

Share this content:

It is cheaper for terminally ill cancer patients to stay in hospice rather than leave it, according to a new study.

Expenses for former hospice patients can tally almost five times that of hospice patients, research reported in the Oct. 1 issue of the Journal of Clinical Oncology found. These stemmed from greater use of the emergency room and more frequent hospitalizations. Other costs, such as the need for home care, also contributed to the higher price tag.

Researchers analyzed Medicare data from 1998 to 2002 involving 90,826 cancer patients who received care at one of nearly 1,400 hospices. About 11% of the patients ultimately left their hospice, the researchers noted. Of these, nearly 34% went on to be admitted to an ER, compared with about 3% of those who stayed in hospice. Also, a larger portion of the ex-hospice patients required in-patient hospital care and stayed longer than hospice patients did.