Helpful Tips When It’s Time For Hospice

by Paul Konrardy

Hospice care supports patients as well as friends and family members. When it comes time to arrange for hospice care, this information will help.

What is hospice?

According to Medline, “Hospice care is end-of-life care. A team of health care professionals and volunteers provides it. They give medical, psychological, and spiritual support. The goal of the care is to help people who are dying have peace, comfort, and dignity. The caregivers try to control pain and other symptoms so a person can remain as alert and comfortable as possible. Hospice programs also provide services to support a patient’s family.”

Where is hospice care provided?

Hospice care can take place

  • At home
  • At a hospice center
  • In a hospital
  • In a skilled nursing facility

Will Medicare pay for hospice services?

(The following information is from the Medicare website. Contact Medicare or your Medicare Advantage Plan provider for specific information.)

Medicare will cover hospice care if you have Medicare Part A (Hospital Insurance and meet all of the following conditions:

  • Your hospice doctor and your regular doctor (if you have one) certify that you’re terminally ill (with a life expectancy of 6 months or less).
  • You accept palliative care (for comfort) instead of care to cure your illness.
  • You sign a statement choosing hospice care instead of other Medicare-covered benefits to treat your terminal illness and related conditions.

Check this Medicare page for information on any co-payments or the percentage of the Medicare-approved amount for inpatient respite care. Also, Medicare doesn’t cover room and board when you get hospice care in your home or another facility where you live (like a nursing home).

There are also specific costs that Medicare won’t cover once your hospice benefit starts.

If you’re in a Medicare Advantage Plan (like an HMO or PPO) and want to start hospice care, ask your plan to help find a hospice provider in your area. Your plan must help you locate a Medicare-approved hospice provider in your area.

If you qualify for hospice care, you and your family will work with your hospice team to set up a plan of care that meets your needs. For more specific information on a hospice plan of care, call your national or state hospice organization. Go here to find hospices that serve your area and compare them based on the quality of care they provide.

Read more from Medicare on hospice and respite care.

How can I find a hospice provider?

Your doctor or hospital social worker may be able to connect you with a hospice provider. You can also visit National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization and go here for a searchable map by zip code.

Photo Credit: Ksenia Makagonova

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