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Dartmouth Atlas Area-Level Estimates of End-of-Life Expenditures: How Well Do They Reflect Expenditures for Prospectively Identified Advanced Lung Cancer Patients?

Keywords: Variation; health care expenditures; lung cancer.

Objective: Assess validity of the retrospective Dartmouth hospital referral region (HRR) end-of-life spending measures by comparing with health care expenditures from diagnosis to death for prospectively identified advanced lung cancer patients.

Data/Setting/Design: We calculated health care spending from diagnosis (2003–2005) to death or through 2011 for 885 patients aged ≥65 years with advanced lung cancer using Medicare claims. We assessed the association between Dartmouth HRR-level spending in the last 2 years of life and patient-level spending using linear regression with random HRR effects, adjusting for patient characteristics.

Findings: For each $1 increase in the Dartmouth metric, spending for our cohort increased by $0.74 (p < .001). The Dartmouth spending variable explained 93.4 percent of the HRR-level variance in observed spending.

Conclusions: HRR-level spending estimates for deceased patient cohorts reflect area-level care intensity for prospectively identified advanced lung cancer patients.

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