Charity for the Dying

Who Receives Unreimbursed Hospice Care?

Published in: Journal of Palliative Medicine, v. 6, no. 4, Aug. 2003, p. 585-591

Posted on RAND.org on December 31, 2002

by Karl Lorenz, Kenneth Rosenfeld, Steven M. Asch, Susan L. Ettner

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OBJECTIVES: Many deaths occur among persons without insurance coverage for hospice care. The authors examined the patient and agency characteristics associated with receiving unreimbursed hospice care in a national survey. RESULTS: The authors examined the receipt of unreimbursed care using the 1998 National Home and Hospice Care Survey (NHHCS) discharge dataset. Overall, only 3% of hospice patients received unreimbursed care. Because 98% of older adults are eligible for Medicare, the authors stratified multivariate analysis on age greater or less than 65 years. Among persons less than 65 years of age, younger, nonwhite persons were more likely to receive unreimbursed care, as were persons with cancer. Agencies providing unreimbursed care to persons over the age of 65 years were more likely to be not-for-profit and freestanding. CONCLUSION: Recipients of unreimbursed hospice care are demographically similar to the uninsured, and whether uninsured persons receive unreimbursed hospice care depends on clinical and agency organizational factors related to the motivation to provide unreimbursed care.

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