Recent studies indicate that approaching death, rather than age, may be the main demographic driver of health care costs. Using a 29-year longitudinal English dataset, this paper uses more robust methods to examine the effects of age and proximity to death on hospital costs. A random effects panel data two-part model shows that approaching death affects costs up to 15 years prior to death. The large tenfold increase in costs from 5 years prior to death to the last year of life overshadows the 30% increase in costs from age 65 to 85. Hence, expenditure projections must consider remaining life expectancy in the populations.
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