Facts & Figures

Hospice agencies and local pharmacies share a common interest–both are under significant market pressures where their survival depends upon a departure from traditional practices toward new models of patient care. This shared interest for survival creates an affinity between the pharmacy and hospice agency to partner and build an advanced model of care for hospice patients.

Consider these hospice marketplace developments:

  • Over 10,000 people in the US are turning 65 every day. As these baby boomers age their needs for advanced health care will increase and hospice agency demand for services will increase proportionately.
  • Over 1.5 million patients in the US are currently in hospice and it is estimated that 1.1 million deaths occurred in the US while under care of hospice.
  • 70% of hospice patients receive care at home with an average hospice patient stay of 71 days.
  • Medicare is the predominant payer source for hospice patients at 82%.

All of these statistics point toward a growing demand for hospice care nationally. This growth is attributed to both an aging population and an increased awareness within the country for the value of hospice care. Among the general population, people want to be surrounded by family and friends in the comfort of their home during their final days of life – hospice care meets this need. The value of hospice care is also accepted by CMS under the Medicare Plan as a cost effective alternative to higher acuity settings that are more costly and focus on curative measures. The focus of hospice care is palliative recognizing the patient’s terminal condition and striving to create a pain-free patient condition in the comfort of the home surrounded by health care professionals and family and friends.

two people examining a hospice marketplace developments chart

Again, these statistics would suggest a bright future for traditional hospice agency providers, but there are emerging trends that threaten the existence of local community hospice agencies. The most significant trend is the growth of for-profit hospice entities looking to enter new markets and acquire or drive local hospice agencies out of business. In 1992, these for-profits represented less than 5% of all hospice agencies nationally. Today the for-profits represent over 50% of the 5,600 hospice agencies nationally. This threat becomes most significant when you consider that hospice patient care is reimbursed by Medicare at the same level for all patients. Now consider that terminally ill patients incur different levels of cost to the hospice agency because their care demands vary. It is well-known that for-profit hospice agencies will target the less costly patient conditions leaving the more costly conditions for the not-for-profit local hospice agency.