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Effect of hospice care on health-care costs for Taiwanese patients with cancer during their last month of life in 2004–2011: A trend analysis

1 Department of Family Medicine, Dalin Tzu Chi Hospital, Buddhist Tzu Chi Medical Foundation, Chiayi, Taiwan
2 Department of Family Medicine, Tainan Municipal Hospital (Managed by Show Chwan Medical Care Corporation), Tainan, Taiwan

Correspondence Address:
Yee-Hsin Kao,
Department of Family Medicine, Tainan Municipal Hospital (Managed by Show Chwan Medical Care Corporation), 670, Chung-Te Road,Tainan
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/tcmj.tcmj_90_19

Objective: End-of-life cancer care imposes a heavy financial burden on patients, their families, and their health insurers. The aim of this study was to explore the 8-year (2004–2011) trends in health-care costs for Taiwanese cancer decedents in their last month of life and, specifically, to assess the association of these trends with hospice care. Materials and Methods: We conducted a population-based longitudinal study and analyzed data from Taiwan's National Health Insurance Research Database. The data consisted of not only claims information – costs of hospitalization and outpatient department visits – but also the associated patient characteristics, catastrophic illness status, hospice patient designation, and insurance system exit date (the proxy for death). Results: A total of 11,104 cancer decedents were enrolled, and 2144 (19.3%) of these patients received hospice care. The rate of hospice service use increased from 14.9% to 21.5% over 8 years. From 2004 to 2011, the mean health-care cost per day in the last month of life increased 8.2% (from US$93 ± $108 in 2004 to US$101 ± $110 in 2011;P= 0001). We compared three groups of patients who received hospice care for more than 1 month (long-H group), received hospice care for 30 days or less (short-H group), and did not receive hospice care (non-H group). Compared to non-H group, long-H group had a significantly lower mean health-care cost per day during their last month of life (US$85.7 ± 57.3 vs. US$102.4 ± 120) (P < 0001). Furthermore, compared to short-H and non-H groups, patients in the long-H group had lower probabilities of receiving chemotherapy and visiting the emergency department more than once. They also incurred lower health-care costs (US$77.1 ± 58.1 vs. US$92.2 ± 56.0 for short-H group and US$102.4 ± 120 for non-H group) (P < 0001). Conclusion: Health-care costs in the last month of life are increasing over time in Taiwan. Nonetheless, health-care costs for patients receiving hospice can be as much as 16.3% lower than patients not receiving hospice care. Patients receiving hospice care for more than 30 days also had lower health-care costs than those receiving care for <30 days.

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