Escalating health care expenditures in cancer decedents’ last year of life: A decade of evidence from a retrospective population-based cohort study in Taiwan

Yen Ni Hung, Tsang Wu Liu, Fur Hsing Wen, Wen Chi Chou, Siew Tzuh Tang

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20 Citations (Scopus)


Background. No population-based longitudinal studies on endof- life (EOL) expenditures were found for cancer decedents. Methods. This population-based, retrospective cohort study examined health care expenditures from 2001 to 2010 among 339,546 Taiwanese cancer decedents’ last year of life. Individual patient-level data were linked from administrative datasets. Health care expenditures were converted from Taiwan dollars to U.S. dollars by health-specific purchasing power parity conversions to account for different health-purchasing powers. Associations of patient, physician, hospital, and regional factors with EOL care expenditures were evaluated by multilevel linear regression model by generalized estimating equation method. Results. Mean annual EOL care expenditures for Taiwanese cancer decedents increased from 2000 to 2010 from U.S. $49,591 to U.S. $68,773, respectively, with one third of spending occurring in the patients’ last month. Increased EOL care expenditures were associated with male gender, younger age, being married, diagnosed with hematological malignancies and cancers other than lung, gastric, and hepatic-pancreatic cancers, and dying within 7-24 months of diagnosis. Patients spent less at EOL when they had higher comorbidities and metastatic disease, died within 6 months of diagnosis, were under care of oncologists, gastroenterologists, and intensivists, and received care at a teaching hospital with more terminally ill cancer patients. Higher EOL care expenditures were associated with greater EOL care intensity at the primary hospital and regional levels. Conclusion. Taiwanese cancer decedents consumed considerable National Health Insurance disbursements at EOL, totaling more than was consumed in six developed non-U.S. countries surveyed in 2010. To slow increasing cost and improve EOL cancer care quality, interventions to ensure appropriate EOL care provision should target hospitals and clinicians less experienced in providing EOL care and those who tend to provide aggressive EOL care to high-risk patients.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)460-469
Number of pages10
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2017


  • Administrative data analysis
  • Cancer patients
  • End-of-life care
  • Health care expenditures
  • Population-based study

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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