People in the United States spend a lot of money at the end of life. In fact, about one quarter of all Medicare spending goes toward care for people during their last year of life. Beyond this shockingly high number, we know that end-of-life care patterns and spending vary widely across hospitals and communities. For example, although about 1 in 8 elderly persons living in Utah die in the hospital, the number is nearly 3 times higher for those who live in New York.
The combination of high spending and variability in spending has convinced many policy makers that end-of-life care is an attractive target for health care savings, although many clinicians are skeptical.
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Ashish K. Jha, MD, MPH Ashish K. Jha, MD, MPH, is K. T. Li Professor of International Health and Health Policy at the Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health in Boston, Massachusetts, Director of the Harvard Global Health Institute, Professor of Medicine at Harvard...