open access

Vol 15, No 1 (2021)
Research paper
Published online: 2021-01-13
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Health care services utilization and cost in the last year of life in Colombia: a retrospective study

Emilio Herrera Molina, Yaneth Marcela Montoya Jaramillo, Zacarías Rodriguez Álvarez-Ossorio, Ana Carolina Gñomez García, Miguel Ángel Lucas Díaz, Irma María Echeverri Rincón, Ingrid Muñoz Mayorga, María Nabal Vicuña
DOI: 10.5603/PMPI.2021.0004
·
Palliat Med Pract 2021;15(1):9-17.

open access

Vol 15, No 1 (2021)
Original articles
Published online: 2021-01-13

Abstract

Introduction: Health care costs at the end of life cause a high expenditure on health care resources. The
implementation of integrated palliative care programs has proven to be cost-efficient. The study aimed
to analyze the consumption and cost of health care resources during the last year of life of patients who
are not part of a palliative care program.
Methods: A descriptive, longitudinal and retrospective study was conducted in patients of a Colombian health
insurance company who died in 2013 due to pathologies that were susceptible and non-susceptible
to palliative care. Causes of death were obtained from official death certificates. McNamara et al. strategy
of classification was applied and adapted to assess services received during the last year of life. Analysis
of costs was conducted by pathologies at different levels of care.
Results: 3,392 deaths in 2013 (70% susceptible to palliative care and 30% non-susceptible to palliative
care). Total health care cost: USD 47,550,155. Patients susceptible to palliative care were responsible for
84% of the year’s expenditure (the annual expenditure) (USD 40 million). There were significant differences
between the average costs for susceptible and non-susceptible palliative care patients (USD 16,878 versus
USD 7,433 per year, p < 0.001). The average cost per patient for the last three months of life represented
52% of the expenditure during the last year of life (USD 8,754). The last month of life was 25.6% of the
expenditure during the last year of life (USD 4,324).
Conclusions: Cost of care for the last three months of life of susceptible palliative care patients generates
a huge health care expenditure, mainly attributable to hospital care cost. The implementation of a palliative
care program could decrease these assistance costs.

Abstract

Introduction: Health care costs at the end of life cause a high expenditure on health care resources. The
implementation of integrated palliative care programs has proven to be cost-efficient. The study aimed
to analyze the consumption and cost of health care resources during the last year of life of patients who
are not part of a palliative care program.
Methods: A descriptive, longitudinal and retrospective study was conducted in patients of a Colombian health
insurance company who died in 2013 due to pathologies that were susceptible and non-susceptible
to palliative care. Causes of death were obtained from official death certificates. McNamara et al. strategy
of classification was applied and adapted to assess services received during the last year of life. Analysis
of costs was conducted by pathologies at different levels of care.
Results: 3,392 deaths in 2013 (70% susceptible to palliative care and 30% non-susceptible to palliative
care). Total health care cost: USD 47,550,155. Patients susceptible to palliative care were responsible for
84% of the year’s expenditure (the annual expenditure) (USD 40 million). There were significant differences
between the average costs for susceptible and non-susceptible palliative care patients (USD 16,878 versus
USD 7,433 per year, p < 0.001). The average cost per patient for the last three months of life represented
52% of the expenditure during the last year of life (USD 8,754). The last month of life was 25.6% of the
expenditure during the last year of life (USD 4,324).
Conclusions: Cost of care for the last three months of life of susceptible palliative care patients generates
a huge health care expenditure, mainly attributable to hospital care cost. The implementation of a palliative
care program could decrease these assistance costs.

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Keywords

palliative care, cause of death, population, cost-benefits analysis, models

About this article
Title

Health care services utilization and cost in the last year of life in Colombia: a retrospective study

Journal

Palliative Medicine in Practice

Issue

Vol 15, No 1 (2021)

Article type

Research paper

Pages

9-17

Published online

2021-01-13

DOI

10.5603/PMPI.2021.0004

Bibliographic record

Palliat Med Pract 2021;15(1):9-17.

Keywords

palliative care
cause of death
population
cost-benefits analysis
models

Authors

Emilio Herrera Molina
Yaneth Marcela Montoya Jaramillo
Zacarías Rodriguez Álvarez-Ossorio
Ana Carolina Gñomez García
Miguel Ángel Lucas Díaz
Irma María Echeverri Rincón
Ingrid Muñoz Mayorga
María Nabal Vicuña

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