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Temporal trends in the relative cost of dying: Evidence from Canada


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  • Payne, Greg
  • Laporte, Audrey
  • Foot, David K.
  • Coyte, Peter C.


Objective To measure change over time in the relationship between health care expenditures for individuals that die in a given year and age matched survivors.Methods Administrative data covered government-funded hospital, physician, prescription drug, and continuing care services for the entire population aged 65 and over in the province of British Columbia between 1991 and 2001. Individuals were separated according to age group and decedent/survivor status. The average utilization cost was estimated for each age group and survivor status in each year from 1991 to 2001. Time trends in decedent and survivor costs, and the ratio between the two, were analyzed for each service category.Results Inflation-adjusted decedent costs rose by almost 10% between 1991 and 2001, while survivor costs fell slightly. The ratio of decedent to survivor costs increased for all age groups, and was greatest for hospital and continuing care costs. Although the study population mortality rate fell over the study period, the proportion of health care costs allocated to decedents grew by 8%.Conclusions If mortality rates continue to fall, lower survivor costs and higher decedent costs will lower future growth in health expenditures due to aging.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Health Policy.

Volume (Year): 90 (2009)
Issue (Month): 2-3 (May)
Pages: 270-276

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Handle: RePEc:eee:hepoli:v:90:y:2009:i:2-3:p:270-276

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Keywords: Health care expenditures Cost of dying Aging Demographics Compression of morbidity;


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Cited by:
  1. Melberg, Hans Olav & Sørensen, Jan, 2013. "How does end of life costs and increases in life expectancy affect projections of future hospital spending?," HERO On line Working Paper Series 2013:9, Oslo University, Health Economics Research Programme.
  2. Lilly, Meredith B. & Laporte, Audrey & Coyte, Peter C., 2010. "Do they care too much to work? The influence of caregiving intensity on the labour force participation of unpaid caregivers in Canada," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 29(6), pages 895-903, December.
  3. Asada, Yukiko & Kephart, George & Hurley, Jeremiah & Yoshida, Yoko & Smith, Andrea & Bornstein, Stephen, 2012. "The role of proximity to death in need-based approaches to health care," Health Policy, Elsevier, vol. 106(3), pages 291-302.


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