Cost Accounting for End-of-Life Care: Recommendations to the Field by the Cost Accounting Workgroup

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Accurate measurement of economic costs is prerequisite to progress in improving the care delivered to Americans during the last stage of life. The Robert Wood Johnson Excellence in End-of-Life Care national program assembled a Cost Accounting Workgroup to identify accurate and meaningful methods to measure palliative and end-of-life health care use and costs. Eight key issues were identified: (1) planning the cost analysis; (2) identifying the perspective for cost analysis; (3) describing the end-of-life care program; (4) identifying the appropriate comparison group; (5) defining the period of care to be studied; (6) identifying the units of health care services; (7) assigning monetary values to health care service units; and (8) calculating costs. Economic principles of cost measurement and cost measurement issues encountered by practitioners were reviewed and incorporated into a set of recommendations.

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