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Facts: This is How We Die

This is How We Die

Seven out of 10 Americans say they would prefer to die at home. (Source: CNN)
But in actuality, nearly 70 percent of Americans die in a hospital, a nursing home, or a long-term-care facility. (Source: Center for Disease Control)
And in fact, less than 1 in 3 Americans have an advance directive such as a living will. (Source: FindLaw.com)
Even when patients have an advance directive, most physicians are unaware of their patient’s preferences. (Source: Critical Care Journal)

The Impact of Chronic Illness

By 2020, the number of people living with at least one chronic illness will increase to 157 million. (Source: National Association for Home Care and Hospice)

Seven out of 10 Americans die from chronic disease. More than 90 million Americans live with at least one chronic disease. (Source: The Dartmouth Atlas of Health Care)

Patients with chronic illness in their last two years of life account for about 32% of total Medicare spending, much of it going toward physician and hospital fees associated with repeated hospitalizations. (Source: The Dartmouth Atlas of Health Care)

Almost a third of Americans see 10 or more physicians in the last six months of their life. (Source: The Dartmouth Atlas of Health Care)

According to the Dartmouth Atlas of Health Care, more than 80 percent of patients with chronic diseases say they want to avoid hospitalization and intensive care when they are dying. (Source: National Association for Home Care and Hospice)

The Costs Associated with Dying

In 2008, Medicare paid $50 billion just for doctor and hospital bills during the last two months of patients’ lives – that’s more than the budget of the Department of Homeland Security or the Department of Education. (Source: CBS News)

It can cost up to $10,000 a day to maintain someone in an intensive care unit. (Source: CBS News)

Approximately 68 percent of Medicare costs are related to patients with four or more chronic conditions — the typical palliative care patients. (Source: National Association for Home Care and Hospice)

How Palliative Care Helps

According to a 2010 study in the New England Journal of Medicine, patients receiving early palliative care experienced less depression, had better quality of life, and survived 2.7 months longer. (Source: National Association for Home Care and Hospice)

One large-scale study of cancer patients found that costs were about 1/3 less for patients who had end-of-life discussions than for those who didn’t. (Source: JAMA Internal Medicine)

The cost of dying varies not only by cause but by where people die: on average it costs $36,000 to die in a chronic care facility, compared to $16,000 to die at home. (Source: Canadian Hospice Palliative Care Association)