New research suggests that individual patient characteristics such as race and ethnicity, caregiver support and level of functional status play a greater role in determining end-of-life Medicare costs than geography.
Patient attributes, caregiver support trump geography as factors in end-of-life costs
According to the study, published in the Feb. 15 issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine, patient variables accounted for 10% of the overall variation in Medicare costs in the last six months of life, twice the variation attributed to geographic region.
“These new findings show that the reasons for wide variation in Medicare costs across the United States are much more complicated than previously thought,” lead author Dr. Amy Kelley, assistant professor in the department of geriatrics and palliative medicine at Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New York, said in a news release. “The healthcare system should address the specific needs of patients, rather than focusing solely on the difference we see across regions. That means we need to extend care beyond the standard single disease-oriented models of care.”
The findings raise new questions, researchers said, including why having caregivers living nearby is associated with lower healthcare costs.
The study’s publication comes just days after research released from the Center for Studying Health System Change, which found that patients’ health status was a primary driver of Medicare costs.
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