Suggested Reading: Profits, Not Health Status, May Be Driving Patients Into and Out of Hospice Care

A recent installment of The Washington’s Post series on “The Business of Dying” is not for the faint of heart. Like an earlier story we blogged about a few months ago, this one is about how hospice care is being abused by the agencies that profit from it.

According to Medicare, to enroll in hospice care, a patient’s life expectancy must be six months or less. Treatment is about comfort, not cure, and it’s intended to last until death.

But, as The Post reports, more than 1 in 3 U.S. patients leave hospice care before they die. “When that many patients are leaving a hospice alive,” the story says, “the agencies are likely to be either driving them away with inadequate care or enrolling patients who aren’t really dying in order to pad their profits.”

Although about 15 in 100 hospice patients are properly released before death because their health unexpectedly improves, that is not what seems to be happening at some such facilities, especially new, for-profit companies, where the release rate is far higher than those figures.

The Post says this might be because:

  • Some hospices forsake patients when their care becomes expensive.
  • Some hospices enroll patients who aren’t actually dying.

Read the whole story here.

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