Hospice Outreach to Minorities Could Save Medicare $270 Million

09/28/19 at 11:21 AM by Cordt Kassner

It makes sense that 1) hospice saves Medicare money; and 2) minorities have lower hospice utilization rates than Caucasians; therefore 3) increasing minority use of hospice would save Medicare money. While I tend to think about minority's lower hospice utilization rates from access and quality end-of-life care perspectives, it's interesting that researchers have also connected the financial dots. (Summary from Hospice News Today, 9/27/19.)


Hospice Outreach to Minorities Could Save Medicare $270 Million
Hospice News
September 27, 2019

Addressing long-standing racial disparities in hospice care could save Medicare as much as $270 million annually, new research has found. Outreach to underserved communities can ensure more patients receive quality care at the end-of-life as well as open untapped markets to hospice providers. “We all know the quality of life benefits but seeing the economic potential can be helpful,” researcher Courtney Hughes, associate professor at Northern Illinois University, told Hospice News. “We looked at the Medicare population and found that if we close that gap between white individuals who elect hospice and racial ethnic minorities it would result in an additional $270 million in savings in a year.” … Due in part to lower rates of hospice utilization, Medicare spends nearly 20% more for care in the last year of life among black and Hispanic patients than white patients. Increasing hospice election among those communities would save approximately $2,105 per Medicare hospice enrollee, the study found. For-profit hospices in general tend to do more outreach that is directed specifically towards underserved populations, data from the study indicate. This is largely due to those organizations’ larger investment in marketing. … “The outreach and marketing efforts on the for-profit side may be working really well, at least when we look at this correlation between having lower disparities in the states where there are more for-profit hospices. If there are strategies to reach populations that are underserved, then there are benefits to learning what those strategies are,” [Hughes said].


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