Background: The National Health Insurance program (NHI) in Taiwan has provided hospice services since 2000, and it was expanded to noncancer illnesses in September 2009. The issues of noncancer hospice care and the impact of the expanded hospice policy remain unclear. Methods: Data were collected retrospectively from claims data of hospice admissions using the NHI Research Database of 2005-2010. Results: A total of 359 noncancer subjects and 412 hospice admissions were enrolled; 1795 age-and gender-matched cancer patients and 2578 hospice admissions were selected as a comparison group. Noncancer hospice care increased markedly after the third quartile of 2009. The most common noncancer diagnosis was "other diseases of the lung" (23.9%). The noncancer subjects had a significantly lower frequency of admissions, lower Charlson Comorbidity Index (CCI) scores, shorter hospice stay, and higher mortality rate than the cancer subjects. Family physicians provided the majority of hospice services in both groups. Acute low respiratory conditions (ALRC) were the most common acute comorbidity in deceased subjects. The noncancer decedents had more ALRC, sepsis/bacteremia, nontraumatic shock, acute myocardial infarctions, and esophageal varicose bleeding than the comparison group. The mean inpatient charges differed insignificantly between both groups. The noncancer subjects correlated negatively with CCI (odds ratio [OR] 0.59 in all hospice admissions; 0.63 in decedents), but positively with a hospice stay ≤3 days, mortality, sepsis/bacteremia, ALRC, nontraumatic shock, and acute myocardial infarctions compared with the cancer subjects (OR 1.42, 1.98, 2.24, 2.36, 2.17, and 11.68, respectively, adjusted by CCI). Conclusions: The expanded palliative care policy has impacted positively on noncancer hospice care in Taiwan. The terminal noncancer patients had higher risks for short hospice stay, sepsis, nontraumatic shock, and respiratory and heart problems than the cancer subjects. Early referral to hospices is required for terminal patients in Taiwan. The CCI had a limited role for cost/severity evaluations of hospice care.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine