BioScience Trends. 2018;12(1):79-86. (DOI: 10.5582/bst.2017.01245)

Tracking hospital costs in the last year of life ― The Shanghai experience.

Zhu BF, Li F, Wang CY, Wang LN, He ZM, Zhang XX, Song PP, Ding LL, Jin CL


One aim of the current study was to track end-of-life care using individual data in Shanghai, China to profile hospital costs for decedents and those for the entire population. A second aim of this study was to clarify the effect of proximity to death. Data from the Information Center of the Shanghai Municipal Commission of Health and Family Planning (SMCHFP) were examined. For decedents who died in medical facilities in 2015, inpatient care was tracked for 1 year before death. A total of 43,765 decedents were included in the study, accounting for 35% of total deaths in 2015 in Shanghai. Hospital costs were higher for people who died before the age of 45 (14,228.62 USD) than for those aged 90 or older (8,696.34 USD). The ratio of costs for decedents to the entire population declined significantly with age. Women received less care than men in the last year of life (t = -15.1244, p < 0.05). Average tertiary hospital costs per decedent declined significantly with age, whereas average secondary hospital costs increased slightly with age. Among the top 14 causes of death classified using the ICD-10, rectal cancer incurred the greatest costs (13,973 USD per decedent). Over 43% of hospital costs were incurred during the month before death. Declining costs in the last year of life with age as well as with distance to death demonstrate the existence of a proximity to death phenomenon in health care expenses. Disease-specific studies should be conducted and attention should be paid to gender equity when examining end-of-life medical costs in the future.

KEYWORDS: Aging, proximity to death, health care expenditures

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