What Is Known About the Economics of End-of-Life Care for Medicare Beneficiaries?

Published in: Gerontologist, v. 42, spec. no. 3, Oct. 1, 2002, p. 40-48

Posted on RAND.org on January 01, 2002

by Melinda Beeuwkes Buntin, Haiden A. Huskamp

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PURPOSE: This article reviews the state of science on the economics of end-of-life care for Medicare beneficiaries and outlines the research needed to fill gaps in that literature. DESIGN AND METHODS: Searches of the medical, health services, and economics literature were conducted. Key topics examined were studies of spending on end-of-life care and financial, organizational, and nonfinancial barriers to high-quality end-of-life care. RESULTS: Studies have documented poor quality of care, dissatisfaction with care, and limitations in the coverage of end-of-life care for Medicare beneficiaries. However, critical gaps in our knowledge about how to design a better end-of-life care system for Medicare beneficiaries remain. IMPLICATIONS: Further research on how treatment decisions at the end of life are made and prospective studies of costs, satisfaction, and outcomes are needed.

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