Hospices, Wary Of Costs, May Be Discouraging Patients With High Expenses

Kaiser Health News: By Michelle Andrews, JAN 21, 2013

Many people who are terminally ill delay entering hospice care until just a few days or weeks before they die, in part because they or their families don’t want to admit that there’s no hope for a cure.

“It’s a hard decision to say yes to,” says Jeanne Dennis, senior vice president at the Visiting Nurse Service of New York, which provides hospice care to 900 patients daily, among other services. “Everybody knows it means you’re not going to get better.”

recent study published in the journal Health Affairs found that there may be another reason that patients don’t take advantage of the comprehensive services that hospice provides: restrictive enrollment policies that may discourage patients from signing up.

The survey of nearly 600 hospices nationwide found that 78 percent had enrollment policies that might restrict patient access to care, especially for those with high-cost medical needs. The policies included prohibitions on enrolling patients who are receiving palliative radiation or blood transfusions or who are being fed intravenously.  Read more