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Duke Study Shows Hospice Savings

For Immediate Release:
November 8, 2007

Hospice Care Saves Medicare an Average of $2,309 per Hospice User, New Study Shows

Independent Study from Duke University

(Alexandria, Va) – A new study from Duke University published in the October ’07 issue of the journal, Social Science & Medicine, shows hospice care in America saves money for Medicare and brings quality care to patients and their families.  Study highlights:

  • Hospice reduced Medicare costs by an average of $2,309 per hospice patient. 
  • Use of hospice decreased Medicare expenditures for cancer patients until the 233rd day of care and until the 153rd day of care for non-cancer patients.
  • Increasing length of hospice use by just three days would increase savings due to hospice by nearly 10 percent, from around $2,300 to $2,500 per hospice user.
  • Medicare costs would be reduced for seven out of ten hospice recipients if hospice has been used for a longer period of time the study found.

“Given that hospice has been widely demonstrated to improve quality of life of patients and families...the Medicare program appears to have a rare situation whereby something that improves quality of life also appears to reduce costs,” writes lead author Don H. Taylor, Jr., assistant professor of public policy at Duke’s Sanford Institute of Public Policy.

The National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization reports that 1.3 million patients received care from the nation’s 4,500 hospice providers last year.  Approximately 35 percent of all deaths in the US were under the care of a hospice program.

“The trends for increased usage of hospice are expected to continue as we see an aging generation of baby-boomers face end-of-life situations for themselves and their parents—to know definitively that hospice provides a cost savings to Medicare is an additional benefit,” said J. Donald Schumacher, NHPCO president and CEO. 

Researchers used a methodology to study Medicare beneficiaries in a fashion that could be described as an “apples to apples” approach that addressed research flaws and questionable analyses in previous hospice cost studies.

The study was funded by the Health Care Financing Organization (HCFO) of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.


Note:  Don H. Taylor, Jr., and Donald Schumacher are available for comment.

Jon Radulovic
Vice President, Communications
Ph: 703-837-3139