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Regional differences in healthcare costs at the end of life: an observational study using Swiss insurance claims data

Caroline Bähler (), Roland Rapold (), Andri Signorell (), Oliver Reich (), Radoslaw Panczak () and Eva Blozik ()
Additional contact information
Caroline Bähler: Helsana Insurance Group
Roland Rapold: Helsana Insurance Group
Andri Signorell: Helsana Insurance Group
Oliver Reich: Helsana Insurance Group
Radoslaw Panczak: The University of Queensland
Eva Blozik: Helsana Insurance Group

International Journal of Public Health, 2020, vol. 65, issue 6, No 34, 969-979

Abstract: Abstract Objectives We evaluated healthcare cost differences at the end of life (EOL) between language regions in Switzerland, accounting for a comprehensive set of variables, including treatment intensity. Methods We evaluated 9716 elderly who died in 2014 and were insured at Helsana Group, with data on final cause of death provided by the Swiss Federal Statistical Office. EOL healthcare costs and utilization, ≥ 1 ICU admission and 10 life-sustaining interventions (cardiac catheterization, cardiac assistance device implantation, pulmonary artery wedge monitoring, cardiopulmonary resuscitation, gastrostomy, blood transfusion, dialysis, mechanical ventilation, intravenous antibiotics, cancer chemotherapies) reimbursed by compulsory insurance were examined. Results Taking into consideration numerous variables, relative cost differences decreased from 1.27 (95% CI 1.19–1.34) to 1.06 (CI 1.02–1.11) between the French- and German-speaking regions, and from 1.12 (CI 1.03–1.22) to 1.08 (CI 1.02–1.14) between the Italian- and German-speaking regions, but standardized costs still differed. Contrary to individual factors, density of home-care nurses, treatment intensity, and length of inpatient stay explain a substantial part of these differences. Conclusions Both supply factors and health-service provision at the EOL vary between Swiss language regions and explain a substantial proportion of cost differences.

Keywords: End-of-life care; Health care costs; Cause of death; Regional variation; Claims data; Intensity of treatment (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2020
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DOI: 10.1007/s00038-020-01428-w

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