Children Enrolled in Hospice Care Under Commercial Insurance: A Comparison of Different Age Groups

Lisa C. Lindley, Austin C. Cohrs, Jessica Keim-Malpass, Douglas L. Leslie

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Background: Although most children at end of life have commercial insurance, little is known about their demographic and clinical characteristics, what care they are receiving, and how much it costs. Objectives: To describe commercially insured children who enrolled in hospice care during their last year of life and to examine differences across age-groups. Methods: A retrospective cohort study was conducted using 2005 to 2014 data from the MarketScan Commercial Claims and Encounters database from Truven Health Analytics. Variables were created for demographics, health, utilization, and spending. Analyses included χ 2 and analysis of variance tests of differences. Results: Among the 17 062 children who utilized hospice, 49% had a preferred provider organization (PPO). Hospice length of stay averaged less than 5 days. Over 80% of children visited their primary care physician. Eight percent had hospital readmissions, and 38% had emergency department (ED) visits. Average expenditures were US$3686 per month or US$44 232 annually. The most common condition for children less than 1 year was cardiovascular (21.96%). Neuromuscular conditions were the most frequent (7.89%) in children aged 1 to 5 years, while malignancies (10.53% and 11.32%, respectively) were prevalent in ages 6 to 14 and 15 to 17. Children less than 1 year had the highest frequency of hospital readmissions (16.25%) with the lowest ED visits (28.67%) while incurring the highest expenses (US$11 211/month). Conclusions: The findings suggest that commercially insured children, who enroll in hospice, have flexible coverage with a PPO. Hospital readmissions and ED visits were relatively low for a population who was seriously ill. There were significant age-group differences.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)123-129
Number of pages7
JournalAmerican Journal of Hospice and Palliative Medicine
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1 2019

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Medicine


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