Background: Medicare spends about 20% more on the last year of life for Black and Hispanic people than White people. With lower hospice utilization rates, racial/ethnic minorities receive fewer hospice-related benefits such as lesser symptoms, lower costs, and improved quality of life. For-profit hospices have higher dropout rates than nonprofit hospices, yet target racial/ethnic minority communities more through community outreach. This analysis examined the relationship between hospice utilization and for-profit hospice status and conducted an economic analysis of racial/ethnic minority utilization. Method: Cross-sectional analysis of 2014 Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), U.S. Census, and Hospice Analytics data. Measures included Medicare racial/ ethnic minority hospice utilization, for-profit hospice status, estimated cost savings, and several demographic and socioeconomic variables. Results: The prevalence of for-profit hospices was associated with significantly increased hospice utilization among racial/ethnic minorities. With savings of about $2,105 per Medicare hospice enrollee, closing the gap between the White and racial/ethnic minority populations would result in nearly $270 million in annual cost savings. Discussion: Significant disparities in hospice use related to hospice for-profit status exist among the racial/ethnic minority Medicare population. CMS and state policymakers should consider lower racial/ethnic minority hospice utilization and foster better community outreach at all hospices to decrease patient costs and improve quality of life.
Hughes, M. Courtney and Vernon, Erin, "Closing the Gap in Hospice Utilization for the Minority Medicare Population" (2019). Faculty Peer-Reviewed Publications. 1083.
School of Nursing and Health Studies
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