NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


April 7, 2005

Health expenditures on individuals in their last six months of life are far greater in the United States than in Europe, but they have not led to better outcomes, says Spencer Rich (Health

Some lawmakers are concerned about the amount of money spent at the end of life when that spending does not result in medically effective care. According to the Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health:

  • The United States spends about two-and-a-half times more per capita than Europe on end-of-life care.
  • Higher per capita spending results primarily from costly and lengthy stays in hospitals and expensive treatments.
  • But most spending in the last six months of life is of very little value to the patient.

RAND Health policy analyst Joanne Lynn says Medicare costs are around $30,000 per person in the last year of life; $12,000 in the last month.

Source: Spencer Rich, "Health -- End-Of-Life Costs Raising Questions About Effectiveness," Health, April 5, 2005.


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