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Hospice in 2023: Dying and the Dollars

Interesting statistics on hospice care, its growth, and fraud from Deborah Abrams Kaplan, writing for Managed Healthcare Executive:

  • Hospice care really started to take hold after Medicare started covering it in 1985. With Medicare paying the bills, hospice gained traction over time. Medicare spending on hospice nearly doubled from 2010 to 2020, increasing from $12.9 billion to $22.4 billion, according to the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission (MedPAC), an independent group that advises Congress on Medicare. During that period, the number of organizations that provide hospice care grew by 44%, from 3,498 in 2010 to 5,058 in 2020.
  • With the growth in hospice care has come a growth in fraudulent practices. Hospice fraud is rampant and has gotten more sophisticated, especially in four areas: (1) improper admission, (2) improper retention, (3) improper classification, and (4) kickbacks.
  • Hospice care in the U.S. was originally provided almost exclusively by nonprofit organizations, but now the providers are predominately for-profit organizations and an increasing number of them are backed by private equity. In 2010, 1,958 of the 3,498 hospices (or about 56%) in the U.S. were run by for-profit companies, according to MedPAC. By 2020, the number of hospices had grown by 44%, to 5,047, and 73% of them were owned by for-profit companies, according to MedPAC.