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A new report from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) has revealed that people in the last year of their lives spend up to 14 times more on key health services than other Australians.

The new report, The last year of life: patterns in health service use and expenditure, draws on deidentified data from the National Integrated Health Services Information Analyses Asset (NIHSI AA) and analyses factors such as hospital visits, prescriptions and services on Medicare Benefit Scheme.

According to AIHW spokesperson Richard Juckes, the study offered a way forward to better understand the medical spending and healthcare habits of the hundreds of thousands of Australians who die each year.

“By bringing together different sources of data to tell a more complete story, the study provides an opportunity to address gaps in our understanding of the impacts of population growth, ageing, increased longevity, a growing economy and increased spending on health,” Mr Juckes said.

Mr Juckes added that the study found that not only did people spend 14 times as much on “key health services” in the last year of their lives, but that the difference was even more pronounced when it came to hospital admissions.

The largest difference was for hospital admissions, with an average of 2.6 admissions per person in their last year of life compared with 0.1 admissions per person per year among those not in the last year of life,” he said.

“Overall, expenditure on these admissions was 30 times as high for people in their last year of life compared with those not in their last year.”

However, there were counter-trends in other demographics, Mr Juckes noted.

“Some people have no contact with the health system in the 12 months before their death. These tend to be young people and people who die suddenly from causes such as injury, including self-inflicted injury,” Mr Juckes said.

The complete AIHW report, which covers other key areas such as ageing populations and residential aged care, can be read online.