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For-Profit vs Non-Profit Hospice: Is There a Difference?

By February 6, 2011

Last year I published an article with tips for choosing the right hospice provider.† The blog I wrote about the article ruffled some feathers and started a discussion about the perceived differences in for-profit vs non-profit hospices.† Now a study published in the Feb. 2nd issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) may be shedding some light on the different practices of for-profit and non-profit hospice agencies.

Read about the finding from the study:† For Profit vs Non-Profit Hospice Agency Patient Population and Practices

The key take away remains the same:† the profit status of a hospice agency is not nearly as important as the quality of care the hospice provides.

Read the blog that started the conversation.

February 7, 2011 at 6:48 pm
(1) Gary W. Polsky says:

Profit Status is not a Reflection of Quality for Hospices

The rampant misinformation regarding for-profit hospice care must be addressed. I have seen no evidence that nonprofit hospice organizations provide better care to terminally ill patients, are more ethical, or are more compassionate than for-profit hospices.

The hospice industry now includes a mix of nonprofit, for-profit and governmental entities similar to other health-care sectors in the U.S. Itís apparent that hospices meet a very important need in this country ó and to infer that the primary motivation is financial does a disservice to the dedicated hospice staffs caring for their patients.

So what is similar between nonprofit and for-profit hospices? The regulations are identical. All licensed and certified hospices must comply with state law and the Code of Federal Regulations governing hospice care. In addition, Medicareís reimbursement rate is fixed regardless of the care needs of individual patients, the services patients receive, or the tax status of the hospice providing the care.

For those who continue to pit nonprofit hospices against for-profit hospices, itís my opinion that you are fighting the wrong battle. What we all should be advocating for is helping people to live with dignity and comfort by providing comprehensive and compassionate hospice care. Hospice practices, including quality of care, depend on an organizationís staff and leadership, not tax status.

What I am focused on and passionate about is providing the highest quality of care to patients facing complex end-of-life issues. When I founded Solari Hospice Care in 2002, I knew that I wanted and expected the same level of passion and dedication from my staff in Las Vegas and Houston. Our patients deserve nothing less than excellent care specific to their unique needs. Ultimately, the most important measure of a hospice should be the quality of care provided to patients ó not its tax status.

February 12, 2011 at 11:47 pm
(2) dying says:

You are absolutely right, Gary. The bottom line when choosing a hospice service is the quality of care, not the profit status. It is interesting, however, to see research come forth with possible findings of “selectivity” among for-profit hospices. It’s worth further research to understand why these differences exist and whether the Medicare Hospice Benefit should be reformed to eliminate possible selectivity.

February 16, 2011 at 5:05 pm
(3) Hospice Insider says:

Gary, I do not believe all For Profit hospices are evil. Neither do I believe all Not For Profit Hospice are good. But to not touch on the aggressive marketing being done and the creaming off the top of patient referrals is misleading. Tell the truth and make the devil blush, Solari hospice like many for profit and some not for profit hospices have agressive marketing techniques and increased EBIT is the goal. Quality care is ok unless it gets in the way of meeting EBIT goals. Most hospices both for profit and not for profit have left the true hospice philosophy behind. The golden rule has been replaced by what investors want, by big bonuses, and so that hospices all over the United States can proudly say “Look at us we are part of corporate America”. Bottom line to anyone needing Hospice is buyer beware. Make sure you ask around. Do not trust hospice marketers or liasons from any organization and if you do not get good care call your State licensing agency and report, report, report.

February 28, 2011 at 2:38 pm
(4) Westlake Village Hospice says:

The JAMA research on the subject, like others, is aimed at preventing manipulation of the system. As in all studies, it is a representation only, and does not necessarily mean in all cases of “for-profits” that care is a lesser quality. It’s definitely worth a look

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