Objectives: This study explores the financial consequences of decreased acute care utilization and expanded community-based care for patients at the end of life in England.
Method: A Markov model based on cost and utilization data was used to estimate the costs of care for cancer and organ failure in the last year of life and to simulate reduced acute care utilization.
Results: We estimated at pounds 1.8 billion the cost to the taxpayer of care for the 127,000 patients dying from cancer in 2006. The equivalent cost for the 30,000 people dying from organ failure was pounds 553 million. Resources of pounds 16 to pounds 171 million could be released for cancer.
Conclusion: People generally prefer to die outside hospital. Our results suggest that reducing reliance on acute care could release resources and better meet peoples' preferences. Better data on the cost-effectiveness of interventions are required. Similar models would be useful to decision-makers evaluating changes in service provision.