Hospice use in the United States is growing, but so is the racial gap between those who choose to use hospice before death. Kaiser Health News reports that nearly half of white Medicare beneficiaries entered hospice before death, compared to only one-third of African Americans.
Stunning statistics about advance care directives were also found: About 40 percent of white people 70 years and older had care plans, but only 16 percent of blacks had them. Instead, African Americans are choosing life-sustaining interventions such as resuscitation and ventilation machines.
"You have people who’ve had a difficult time getting access to care throughout their lifetimes," Maisha Robinson, MD, a neurologist and palliative medicine physician at the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Fla., told Kaiser Health News. "And then you have a physician who’s saying, 'I think that we need to transition your mother, father, grandmother to comfort care or palliative care.' People are skeptical of that."
The racial gap is expected to expand when Medicare begins to pay doctors for end-of-life discussions.