Background: Previous studies found that hospice and palliative care reduces healthcare costs for end-of-life cancer patients. Aim: To investigate hospital inpatient charges and length-of-stay differences by availability of hospice care beds within hospitals using nationwide data from end-of-life inpatients with lung cancer. Design: A retrospective cohort study was performed using nationwide lung cancer health insurance claims from 2002 to 2012 in Korea. Setting and participants: Descriptive and multi-level (patient-level and hospital-level) mixed models were used to compare inpatient charges and lengths of stay. Using 673,122 inpatient health insurance claims, we obtained aggregated hospital inpatient charges and lengths of stay from a total of 114,828 inpatients and 866 hospital records. Results: Hospital inpatient charges and length of stay drastically increased as patients approached death; a significant portion of hospital inpatient charges and lengths of stay occurred during the end-of-life period. According to our multi-level analysis, hospitals with hospice care beds tend to have significantly lower end-of-life hospital inpatient charges; however, length of stay did not differ. Hospitals with more hospice care beds were associated with reduction in hospital inpatient charges within 3 months before death. Conclusion: Higher end-of-life healthcare hospital charges were found for lung cancer inpatients who were admitted to hospitals without hospice care beds. This study suggests that health policy-makers and the National Health Insurance program need to consider expanding the use of hospice care beds within hospitals and hospice care facilities for end-of-life patients with lung cancer in South Korea, where very limited numbers of resources are currently available.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine