Regional variation in the association between advance directives and end-of-life Medicare expenditures

TitleRegional variation in the association between advance directives and end-of-life Medicare expenditures
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2011
AuthorsNicholas, LHersch, Langa, KM, Iwashyna, TJ, Weir, DR
KeywordsDemographics, End of life decisions, Health Conditions and Status, Healthcare, Medicare/Medicaid/Health Insurance, Methodology, Other

CONTEXT: It is unclear if advance directives (living wills) are associated with end-of-life expenditures and treatments. OBJECTIVE: To examine regional variation in the associations between treatment-limiting advance directive use, end-of-life Medicare expenditures, and use of palliative and intensive treatments. DESIGN, SETTING, AND PATIENTS: Prospectively collected survey data from the Health and Retirement Study for 3302 Medicare beneficiaries who died between 1998 and 2007 linked to Medicare claims and the National Death Index. Multivariable regression models examined associations between advance directives, end-of-life Medicare expenditures, and treatments by level of Medicare spending in the decedent's hospital referral region. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Medicare expenditures, life-sustaining treatments, hospice care, and in-hospital death over the last 6 months of life. RESULTS: Advance directives specifying limits in care were associated with lower spending in hospital referral regions with high average levels of end-of-life expenditures (- 5585 per decedent; 95 CI, - 10,903 to - 267), but there was no difference in spending in hospital referral regions with low or medium levels of end-of-life expenditures. Directives were associated with lower adjusted probabilities of in-hospital death in high- and medium-spending regions (-9.8 ; 95 CI, -16 to -3 in high-spending regions; -5.3 ; 95 CI, -10 to -0.4 in medium-spending regions). Advance directives were associated with higher adjusted probabilities of hospice use in high- and medium-spending regions (17 ; 95 CI, 11 to 23 in high-spending regions, 11 ; 95 CI, 6 to 16 in medium-spending regions), but not in low-spending regions. CONCLUSION: Advance directives specifying limitations in end-of-life care were associated with significantly lower levels of Medicare spending, lower likelihood of in-hospital death, and higher use of hospice care in regions characterized by higher levels of end-of-life spending.


Nicholas, Lauren Hersch Langa, Kenneth M Iwashyna, Theodore J Weir, David R K08 HL091249/HL/NHLBI NIH HHS/United States R01 AG030155/AG/NIA NIH HHS/United States U01 AG09740/AG/NIA NIH HHS/United States UL1RR024986/RR/NCRR NIH HHS/United States Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural United States JAMA : the journal of the American Medical Association JAMA. 2011 Oct 5;306(13):1447-53.

Endnote Keywords

Advance Directives/ economics/Advance Directives/ economics/Aged, 80 and over/Data Collection/Female/Health Expenditures/ statistics/Health Expenditures/ statistics/numerical data/Hospice Care/economics/ utilization/Hospice Care/economics/ utilization/Hospital Mortality/Hospital Mortality/Hospitals/statistics/Hospitals/statistics/numerical data/Humans/Kidney Failure, Chronic/economics/therapy/Kidney Failure, Chronic/economics/therapy/Medicare/ economics/statistics/Medicare/ economics/statistics/numerical data/Palliative Care/ economics/Palliative Care/ economics/Prospective Studies/Regression Analysis/Terminal Care/ economics/Terminal Care/ economics/United States

Endnote ID


Citation Key7628
PubMed ID21972306
PubMed Central IDPMC3332047