The Affordable Care Act and End-of-Life Care for Patients With Cancer

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Abstract

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) expanded access to high-quality end-of-life care for Americans with serious illness, including cancer. Before the ACA was enacted in 2010, nearly 715,000 patients died in hospitals annually,1 despite evidence that most Americans prefer to die at home.2 Moreover, fewer than half of Medicare beneficiaries used hospice before death, despite evidence that hospice services improve cancer patients’ quality of life near death and caregivers’ bereavement outcomes.3–6 The ACA-stipulated programs and subsequent efforts were designed to address these deficiencies in access to high-quality end-of-life care. However, important gaps in coverage persist. In this article, we highlight the impact of the ACA on end-of-life care for individuals with and without cancer.

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