Hospice Is a Profitable Business, but Nonprofits Mostly Do a Better Job

Barbara Reiss discovered that in 2017, when her 85-year-old mother was dying of cancer at her home in River Ridge, La. A for-profit hospice proved “very responsive to us,” she said, even when the family called for advice at 2 a.m. The hospice provided all the necessary supplies and drugs and sent nurses regularly.

“When we were really having trouble, they came,” Ms. Reiss said. Her mother died peacefully, and the family turned to the same for-profit hospice three years later, when her father died in assisted living at 95.

But numerous studies have documented that as a group, nonprofits provide better care. All hospices within a geographic area receive the same daily payment per Medicare beneficiary, but patients enrolled in nonprofits receive more visits from nurses, social workers and therapists, according to a 2019 study by the consulting firm Milliman.

For-profits are more likely to discharge patients before they die, a particularly distressing experience for families. “It violates the implicit contract hospice makes, to care for patients through the end of life,” Dr. Atkins said.

Dr. Joan Teno, a Brown University health policy researcher, and her team reported in 2015 on these “burdensome transitions,” in which patients were discharged, hospitalized and then readmitted to hospice.

What Next?

Recent Articles

Leave a Reply

You must be Logged in to post comment.