Facts and Figures: Hospice Care in America

Categories: Research.

National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization continues to be concerned about the number of people who benefit from the care and services that hospices provide for a short period of time. NHPCO’s newly issued report, Facts and Figures: Hospice Care in America (PDF) indicates that just over 40 percent of Medicare beneficiaries accessing hospice received care for 14 days or less in 2015.

“The hospice interdisciplinary team is ideally suited to provide care and support to patients and family caregivers throughout the last months of life, not just the last days,” said Edo Banach, NHPCO president and CEO.

“We need to continue reaching out to patients, family caregivers, and other health care professionals to help them understand all the benefits that hospice care brings, particularly when provided in a timely fashion as part of a continuum of care,” Banach added.

Recent research out of the Yale University School of Medical School and published by the Journal of the American Geriatric Society suggests that individuals who access hospice care often do so too late to benefit fully and additional strategies are needed to better address the high burden of distressing symptoms and disability at the end of life.

Facts and Figures: Hospice Care in America provides an overview of hospice care delivery in the U.S. with specific information on hospice patient characteristics, location and level of care, Medicare hospice spending, hospice provider characteristics, and more.

Representative statistics from the new report reflecting 2015 data:

  • 4,199 hospices were paid by CMS to provide care under the Medicare hospice benefit.
  • 46 percent of Medicare decedents received one day or more of hospice care and were enrolled in hospice at the time of death.
  • Median length of service was 23 days.
  • 74.9 percent of patients received care for 90 days or less, while those receiving care for more than 180 days accounted for 13.1 percent.
  • Cancer was the most common principle diagnosis accounting for 27.7 percent of patients.
  • 97.8 percent of care was provided at the Routine Home Care level with 55.8 percent of RHC days taking place in the home.

The primary data source used for the findings in NHPCO’s new Facts and Figures report is CMS hospice claims data included in the hospice standard analytical file Limited Data Set. The Hospice Cost Reports, also available from CMS, provided supplemental information. The NHPCO National Data Set is the data source for the Volunteer and Bereavement statistics. The MedPAC March 2017 Report to Congress is the data source for discharges and transfers.

Caring for people with serious and life-limiting illness nearing the end of life is complex, and no other professionals are better equipped to do this than our nation’s hospice and palliative care providers.

More information about hospice care is available from NHPCO’s CaringInfo at caringinfo.org.

Download the new report, Facts and Figures: Hospice Care in America (PDF).

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