To examine how patients’ location of death relates to health care utilization and spending for surviving spouses.
Health and Retirement Study () 2000–2012 linked to the Dartmouth Atlas and Medicare claims data.
This was an observational study. We matched bereaved spouses whose spouses died in a hospital to those whose spouses died outside the hospital using propensity scores based on decedent and spouse demographic and clinical characteristics, care preferences, and regional practice patterns.
Data Sources/Study Setting
We identified 1,348 decedents with surviving spouses. We linked data from each dyad with Medicare claims and regional characteristics.
In multivariable models, bereaved spouses of decedents who died in the hospital had $3,106 higher Medicare spending 12 months postdeath ( = .04) compared to those whose spouses died outside a hospital. Those surviving spouses were also significantly more likely to have an visit ( = 1.5; < .01) and hospital admission ( = 1.4; = .02) in the year after their spouse's in‐hospital death. Increased Medicare spending for surviving spouses persisted through the 24‐month period postdeath ($5,310; = .02).
Bereaved spouses of decedents who died in the hospital had significantly greater Medicare spending and health care utilization themselves after their spouses’ death.
Data Collection/Extraction Methods