Dying in LA as expensive as living in LA

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(AP Photo)

(AP Photo)

LOS ANGELES (CNS) – More money is spent in the Los Angeles area on chronically ill patients in their final years than anywhere else in the United States, according to new data on Medicare patients.

Spending in the last two years of life was about $112,000 per patient in Los Angeles as of 2010, about 60 percent higher than the national average, the Dartmouth Atlas Project found in a report cited today by the Los Angeles Times.

From 2007 to 2010, Medicare spending on end-of-life care rose 15 percent nationwide, The Times reported. The jump occurred despite more patients enrolling in hospice care, fewer patients dying at the hospital, and patients spending fewer days in the hospital in the last six months of life.

There is tremendous variation in end-of-life care across the U.S., with patients in some regions getting much more aggressive care than in other regions. Those differences are pronounced in California, according to an analysis by the California HealthCare Foundation, The Times reported.

Researchers disagree as to why the Medicare expenditures in Los Angeles are so much higher than elsewhere. But patients here spent about 13 days in hospice care during their last six months of life, compared with 21 days nationwide. And they spent 14 days in hospitals, compared with 10 days nationwide.

Some experts suspect that this difference may be due to more hospital beds being available and pressure to fill those beds, according to The Times.

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