Wall Street Journal analysis suggests lengthy hospice care boosts Medicare bills

February 17, 2016

Between 2005 and 2013, about 107,000 patients received hospice care for an average of nearly 1,000 days spread out over four or more calendar years, according to a Wall Street Journal analysis of Medicare billing records. They cost Medicare 14% of its overall hospice spending, even though they accounted for just 1.3% of its hospice patients. The most recent Medicare data show that patients dying from Alzheimer’s disease, heart disease and other chronic conditions now are among the most common in the hospice program. Hospice advocates say studies have demonstrated that hospice care can produce cost-savings and that, economics aside, it provides an important benefit for patients.