Capitated Risk-Bearing Managed Care Systems Could Improve End-of-Life Care
Jones, Stanley B.
Journal of the American Geriatrics Society. 1998 Mar; 46(3): 322-330.
Capitated or salaried managed care systems offer an important opportunity to provide high quality, cost-effective end-of-life care. However, capitated healthcare delivery systems have strong incentives to avoid patient populations in need of such care. Care currently provided at the end of life in fee-for-service practice is commonly deficient, with high rates of avoidable pain and other burdens. Only hospice offers a better track record, yet access to hospice is limited, and length of stay is short. Traditional staff- or group-model managed care plans, with their emphasis on prevention, patient education, cost efficiency, service coordination, and integrated provider networks, present a dynamic set of conditions and organizational structures that would support real change. Advantages derived from managed care systems providing quality end-of-life care include coordinated care across delivery sites, interdisciplinary teams, integrated services, and opportunities to develop innovative care programs, service arrays, utilization controls, and accountability for care standards. We propose a special comprehensive system of managed care, which we call MediCaring, for seriously ill persons nearing the end of life. MediCaring would encompass the best elements of palliative care within a managed care structure: comprehensive, supportive, community-based services that meet personal and medical needs, a focus on patient preferences, symptom management, family counseling, and support. Other programs, such as hospice, have shown that continuity and coordinated care, financed through a capitated payment and directed at a special population, are both feasible and effective. There are obstacles to improving care at the end of life. Managed care systems, like most of medical care, have largely ignored the terminally ill patient. Current financing arrangements make it financially undesirable for insurers to recruit or retain the very sick; very ill patients can be costly over a prolonged time. In addition, inertia and habit inhibit change, and there are few criteria by which to judge whether care at the end-of-life is "good." Nevertheless, capitated or salaried managed care systems committed to enhanced end-of-life care seem well positioned to achieve it if payment reimbursements were revised to encourage this end.
Accountability; Age Factors; Cancer; Chronically Ill; Counseling; Critically Ill; Diagnosis; Economics; Education; Health; Health Care; Health Care Reform; Health Maintenance Organizations; Hospices; Incentives; Life; Managed Care Programs; Morbidity; Managed Care; Organization and Administration; Organizations; Pain; Palliative Care; Patient Advocacy; Patient Education; Patients; Physicians; Prognosis; Quality of Health Care; Risk; Selection for Treatment; Standards; Terminal Care; Terminally Ill; Trends;
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