Health service use and costs in the last 6 months of life in elderly decedents with a history of cancer: a comprehensive analysis from a health payer perspective.
Langton JM, Reeve R, Srasuebkul P, Haas M, Viney R, Currow D, Pearson SA.
There is growing interest in end-of-life care in cancer patients. We aim to characterise health service use and costs in decedents with cancer history and examine factors associated with resource use and costs at life's end.
We used routinely collected claims data to quantify health service use and associated costs in two cohorts of elderly Australians diagnosed with cancer: one cohort died from cancer (n=4271) and the other from non-cancer causes (n=3072). We used negative binomial regression to examine the factors associated with these outcomes.
Those who died from cancer had significantly higher rates of hospitalisations and medicine use but lower rates of emergency department use than those who died from non-cancer causes. Overall health care costs were significantly higher in those who died from cancer than those dying from other causes; and 40% of costs were expended in the last month of life.
We analysed health services use and costs from a payer perspective, and highlight important differences in patterns of care by cause of death in patients with a cancer history. In particular, there are growing numbers of highly complex patients approaching the end of life and the heterogeneity of these populations may present challenges for effective health service delivery.