Study objective: Obtain descriptive data on the use of home oxygen by Medicare beneficiaries and study the impact of certain demographic factors and diagnoses on oxygen use.
Methods: A home oxygen user was defined as any Medicare beneficiary with at least one claim for home oxygen in the Health Care Financing Administration National Claims History 5% Physician Supplier Files for 1991 and 1992. Railroad board beneficiaries, health maintenance organization members, and those without continuous part B coverage were excluded.
Results: In 1991, there were 21,489 beneficiaries in the sample who received oxygen therapy. In 1992, there were 8,418 new users. Twenty-six percent of new users died in 1992. Factors significantly associated with death included age 76 years or older (relative risk [RR], 1.3), pneumonia (RR, 1.3), lung cancer (RR, 3.8), male gender (RR, 1.2), heart failure (RR, 1.3), and diagnoses suggestive of COPD (RR, 0.45). Seven percent of new users discontinued therapy within 1 month, 28% within 6 months. Liquid oxygen was used by 19% of current and 14% of new users. Factors significantly associated with liquid oxygen use included portable oxygen claims (odds ratio [OR], 2.4), nonmetropolitan residence (OR, 0.73), and white race (OR, 1.2).
Conclusions: Descriptive information on patterns of home oxygen use, including associated medical conditions, types and duration of therapy, and survival is useful for regulatory purposes. This information supports concerns that current payment policy may discourage suppliers from providing liquid oxygen in underserved areas.