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Snapshot: Hospice in California: A Look at Cost and Quality

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Publication Date: November 2006

Publisher(s): California HealthCare Foundation

Author(s): Charlene Harrington; Janis O'Meara

Topic: Health (Hospitals and other health care facilities)

Type: Brief

Coverage: California

Abstract:

Although many people in California die in hospitals, patient surveys reveal that they would prefer to be at home with the support of caregivers. Hospice, an approach to caring for terminally ill patients that stresses the relief of pain and suffering rather than curative treatment, fills that need. Since 1996, the number of hospice programs in California has remained fairly stable, while the number of hospice patients has doubled. Along with greater awareness and acceptance of hospice care, the growth may be fueled by California's burgeoning elderly population. This report provides a snapshot of hospice cost and quality by focusing on utilization, hospice and patient characteristics, patient care, government oversight, and the financial picture in California from 1996 through 2004. Key findings include:

*More than 88,000 Californians sought hospice services in 2004, a 93% increase from 46,000 in 1996; *Half of hospice patients were over 80 years old, slightly more than half were female, and the vast majority were white; *One in four hospice patients sought care during the last five days of their lives; and *Medicare paid for 82% of hospice care, which averaged $6,500 per patient.