Frequently Asked Questions About Hospice Care

| By Jodi Horton

1. How do we pay for hospice care?question mark

Hospice care is usually covered by your healthcare insurance. Individuals with Medicare can utilize the Medicare Hospice Benefit to cover the cost of care. The Hospice Benefit covers visits by the hospice care team as well as the cost of medical equipment and supplies and medications related to the hospice plan of care. Most private insurance plans will also pay for hospice care. To confirm, check with your insurance provider or with the hospice agency.

2. Will the Medicare Hospice Care Benefit pay for care in a facility?

The Medicare Hospice Benefit will reimburse for hospice services that are provided in long-term care facilities, such as assisted living homes and skilled nursing facilities. However, the benefit does not cover expenses for room and board. Long-term care insurance can help shoulder the cost of room and board in a long-term care facility, or individuals can investigate options for long-term care assistance from their state Medicaid.

3. How long can a patient receive hospice care?

A patient can continue receiving hospice care as long as the hospice physician continues to recertify the terminal illness. Patients receive two 90-day periods of care followed by an unlimited number of 60-day periods as long as the patient continues to meet Medicare criteria for eligibility. Hospice care is provided only to patients who have been certified by two doctors as terminally ill with a life expectancy of six months or less.

4. Can a hospice patient continue seeing his/her primary care physician?

Some primary care providers or specialty physicians may choose to follow their patients’ care while the patient is on hospice. Others defer primary/attending physician care to the hospice physician. If the hospice physician serves as the attending physician, a patient may continue to see their PCP or specialist for care not related to the hospice diagnosis.

5. Will someone from the hospice be with the patient 24 hours a day?

Hospice support is available 24 hours a day, but a hospice worker does not stay with the patient 24 hours a day. Hospice patients should have a primary caregiver, usually a loved one or a paid caregiver, and hospice workers will supplement the care and support the patient and the caregiver. The hospice can be contacted 24 hours a day, 7 days a week if you have questions or are in a crisis situation.

If you have more questions about hospice services in the Pima County area, contact Casa de la Luz Hospice at (520) 544-9890.

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