End-of-life Care: Not a Cost Bogeyman After All?

By Steve Barrett
Saturday, September 1, 2018

Per-capita expenditures on end-of-life care have been dropping since 2008, according to a study by The Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice and Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center.

The decrease helped moderate Medicare spending, the study finds. Spending declines occurred in areas such as inpatient care and home health.

“Potential explanations include changes in supply — meaning doctors’ efforts may have been redistributed from end-of-life care to care of patients newly insured under the ACA — or decreased demand for end-of-life care: Patients and their families may have adapted a more conservative approach in end-of-life decision-making,” William Weeks, MD, PhD, MBA, lead author and Dartmouth Institute Professor, states in a release about the findings.

The recession may have played a role as well.

It is important to assess how decreased spending is affecting the quality of end-of-life care, Dr. Weeks adds.

The study appears in JAMA Internal Medicine.