- 1Division of Surgical Oncology, The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center and James Comprehensive Cancer Center, Columbus, OH, USA.
- 2Division of Surgical Oncology, The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center and James Comprehensive Cancer Center, Columbus, OH, USA. firstname.lastname@example.org.
Background: The increasing incidence of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) coupled with rising health care costs contributes to high end-of-life expenditures. The current study aimed to characterize health care expenditures and hospice use among patients with HCC using a large, national database.
Methods: The Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER)-Medicare-linked database was used to identify patients with HCC. Logistic regression was used to identify factors associated with overall hospice use and end-of-life expenditures among individuals who died of HCC.
Results: Among 14,369 Medicare beneficiaries with HCC, 8069 (63.7 %) used hospice. Racial/ethnic minority patients were less likely to use hospice services during the last year of life than white patients (no hospice: n = 2034 [44.3 %] vs. hospice: n = 2513 [31.1 %]). Social vulnerability also had an impact on the likelihood of patients using hospice services; in particular, the probability of hospice use among patients declined as social vulnerability increased (P < 0.05). Hospice use was associated with an approximate $10,000 decrease in inpatient expenditures (hospice: US$7900 [IQR, US$0-26,600] vs. no hospice: US$18,000 [IQR $400-49,100]; P < 0.001) and $1300 decrease in outpatient expenditures (hospice: US$900 [IQR, US$0-4500] vs. non-hospice: US$2200 [IQR, US$200-7900; P < 0.001) compared with individuals who did not use hospice.
Conclusions: Minority patients and individuals residing in high-vulnerability areas were less likely to use hospice. Patients who used hospice at the end of life had a reduction in inpatient and outpatient Medicare claims. Patients with HCC in need of hospice services should be ensured timely referral regardless of race/ethnicity or social vulnerability.