Background: Home health agencies (HHAs) are often affiliated with hospice agencies and commonly care for patients with serious illness within the Medicare program. HHAs may therefore provide a potential opportunity to facilitate timely referral to hospice when appropriate. Objectives: To determine if patients cared for by HHAs affiliated with hospice agencies experience differential hospice use and care patterns. Design: Nationally representative cohort study. Setting/Subjects: 1431 decedents in the 2002 to 2017 Medicare Current Beneficiary Survey who received home health in the last year of life in the United States. Measurements: Primary independent variable was HHA hospice affiliation. Primary dependent variable was hospice enrollment; secondary dependent variables were hospice live discharge and length of stay. Results: The 27.3% of decedents cared for by a HHA affiliated with a hospice had greater education levels and wealth and were more likely to live in the Midwest and Northeast. In adjusted models, HHA-hospice affiliated decedents had greater odds of enrolling in hospice compared to those cared for by HHAs not affiliated with a hospice, corresponding to a hospice enrollment rate of 51.0% for those cared for by HHAs affiliated with hospices versus 39.7% for HHAs not affiliated (p = 0.004). There were no differences in hospice length of stay or live discharge rate by hospice affiliation. Conclusion: Medicare beneficiaries cared for by HHAs affiliated with hospices are more likely to enroll in hospice at the end of life. This has implications for improving hospice access through home health incentives and models of care.
- end-of-life care
- home health
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine