Patients For Profit: Is the Original Vision of Hospice Care Fading?

When hospice care was introduced to Americans in 1974, it was a revolutionary advance in the care of the terminally ill. Instead of spending their last days in a hospital, patients are allowed to die at home in dignity and relative comfort, surrounded by family, friends, and dedicated caregivers. 

But in recent years, many corporations and profiteers have turned hospice care into a money machine. In fact, dying with dignity is now a “$22 billion industry plagued by exploitation,” according to a report from ProPublica and The New Yorker

“Half of all Americans now die in hospice care. Easy money and a lack of regulation transformed a crusade to provide death with dignity into an industry rife with fraud and exploitation,” the report states. 

Corporate Takeover of Hospice Care Preys on Dying for Profit

Nearly 70 percent of hospice providers are for-profits today versus just 30 percent in 2000. The aggregate Medicare margins of for-profit hospices are reportedly three times that of their non-profit counterparts.

One reason that hospice care has become such a lucrative business is that it offers companies large margins for relatively low effort. Medicare pays a set rate per patient per day, regardless of the care provided. Since most hospice care takes place at home and nurses are only required to visit patients twice a month, it is relatively easy to keep overhead costs low and outsource most of the labor to unpaid family members.

Former Salespeople Turn Whistleblowers Expose the Truth

Whistleblowers who used to work as salespeople have made it their mission to reveal the variety of shady tactics companies use to increase admissions and profits. These tactics include wearing scrubs to appear more credible, even if they do not have a medical background, and targeting lower-educated and poorer individuals to convince them that hospice care is necessary. In some cases, salespeople have been known to lobby doctors to turn over their “last breath” patients and to outright bribe providers with perks or kickbacks. CNBC’s American Greed shows how a Chicago hospice owner “makes a killing” on hospice patients. 

Lax Government Oversight Leads to Billions in Profit

Corporations see dollar signs in traditional health care services and take advantage of lax government oversight to generate billions in profit. Along the way, corners are cut, and patients suffer, often the most vulnerable among us. Clearly, the corporate takeover of hospice care has led to exploitation and a lack of oversight in the industry. While hospice care was originally intended to provide comfort and support to terminally ill patients and their families, it has become a lucrative business for companies looking to make easy profits. Stricter regulations must be put in place to ensure that hospice care is provided in a way that is ethical and truly meets the needs of patients and their families.

Affected By This Egregious Abuse of Power? Contact Us Today.

Hospice care, a benefit once primarily provided by non-profit agencies, has made a dramatic 180 shift over the past decade. The ability to turn a quick profit during a person’s last days living is hurting patients and their families. 
The good news is that brave souls are blowing the whistle on the corporate takeover of hospice care and revealing the unconscionable tactics used by those who prey on the dying. If you or someone you know has been affected by this egregious abuse of power and you wish to discuss the specifics of your case in a free consultation with an experienced personal injury lawyer, please contact us today.