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What Factors Affect the Cost of Palliative Care?

Mary McMahon
Updated May 17, 2024
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The cost of palliative care can depend on a treatment plan and the patient’s location. Expenses can vary from nonexistent in some cases, to quite high in others. Patients concerned about expenses can talk with representatives of insurance or benefits programs to find out what kinds of options are available. Sometimes financial assistance is available through charitable organizations or sliding scale programs that offer treatment at a range of price points. Studies suggest that a structured palliative care plan can be less expensive to administer than standard treatment.

In a palliative approach, care focuses on keeping patients comfortable, not using curative measures. It can include nutritional support, pain management, and symptom control for people with terminal illnesses who are likely to die or who have chosen to stop aggressive treatment. One important factor in the cost of palliative care is the patient’s location. Hospitalization can be expensive because there are set base rates for use of a room and a bed. Patients receiving care at home don’t have to meet these expenses.

The level of intervention provided can be another issue. Patients receiving invasive medical procedures like mechanical ventilation and testing will typically have higher bills for medical expenses. Likewise, patients who need constant monitoring from one or more nurses can incur higher cost of palliative care because of the increased staffing need. It is important to be aware that palliative care doesn’t necessitate neglecting the patient, but usually involves a lower level of intervention and monitoring to allow a patient to die comfortably.

Length of time spent in palliative care can be another factor. A short session of comfort care during a brief fatal illness may be less expensive than several months of treatment including pain management and other treatments. In some cases, patients may be eligible for benefits like compassionate use medications provided free of charge to control symptoms, or donated services from nurses and care providers. This can reduce the cost of palliative care.

Some hospice programs are entirely free of charge. They operate as charities to treat patients either in a designated hospice facility or at home with assistance from health visitors. This is an example of the low end of the scale when it comes to estimates on the cost of palliative care. To qualify, patients may need to meet income standards or have a specific condition, while in other cases, anyone who wishes to enter a hospice program can do so. In the event patients start to recover, they can be transitioned to a more medically appropriate facility.

WiseGEEK is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a WiseGEEK researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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Mary McMahon

Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

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