End-of-Life Choice, Palliative Care and Counseling

Posts TaggedRussell Turk

Health care reform and end-of-life care: One physicians perspective

In it’s 10 Reasons to Reform Health Care Now series, DailyFinance.com and Dr. Russell Turk tackle the thorny issue of the many costs of end-of-life care:

More health dollars were probably spent on my father-in-law at the end of his life than were spent on the rest of his 75 years combined. Despite all that money and effort, he was miserable.

This same scenario is played out again and again: A situation is more or less hopeless but gets dragged out for weeks, months and sometimes years. It seems as though the patient’s quality of life takes a backseat to treating the problem at hand. More to the point, most family members don’t consider the staggering costs of end-of-life care since Medicare covers many people who end up in this situation. In a report issued in April, Dartmouth researchers found that total Medicare spending in the last two years of life ranges from an average of $53,432 for patients treated at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota to $93,842 for those at the U.C.L.A. Medical Center in Los Angeles.

What’s the alternative? No clear answer has emerged, but almost everyone agrees that we have to figure out how to manage end-of-life care in a more cost-effective way as the baby boomers age. And we need to distinguish between care that prolongs life and care that actually heals the sick. For example, one option for cancer patients when it’s clear the disease is terminal is to utilize hospice care.

Read the rest of this excellent article here.