Click here to read the first part of this series, Three Things to Know About Hospice Care.
Hospice care is a covered Medicare benefit (and a benefit of most other insurances).
The Medicare Hospice Benefit covers the cost of hospice care, medical equipment, supplies, and medications related to the terminal illness, inpatient care, and respite care. An individual is deemed eligible for the Medicare Hospice Benefit if he/she meets all of the following conditions (as determined by Medicare and as stated in the Medicare Hospice Benefit booklet distributed by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services):
Eligible for Medicare Part A
The patient’s doctor and the hospice medical director certify that a patient is terminally ill and has six months or less to live, if the disease runs its normal course.
The patient signs a statement choosing hospice care instead of other procedures to treat the terminal illness.
Care is provided by a Medicare-approved hospice program.
If you are interested in pursuing hospice care, and are covered by another insurance, contact your insurance provider or a local hospice provider to learn what your insurance provides in terms of hospice care coverage.
Hospice patients and loved ones are provided care and support by an interdisciplinary team of professionals with expertise in the dying process.
Hospice care uses a holistic model of care to address the physical, emotional, and spiritual needs of a patient and their loved ones. The interdisciplinary team is comprised of the physician, the nurse case manager, a social worker, a chaplain, a home health aide, volunteers, specialty therapists, a dietician, and a bereavement counselor. These individuals are experts in end of life care. Together, they offer solutions to managing symptoms, guidance on making final arrangements or accessing benefits, emotional support, education on the dying process, assistance with personal care such as bathing and grooming, and grief support for loved ones after the patient’s death.
The team members will visit you on a regular basis, and the frequency is determined by your care needs and the hospice plan of care.
There is no time limit for hospice care.
Hospice care is provided in benefit periods. Medicare patients can receive hospice care for two 90-day periods followed by an unlimited number of 60-day periods. At the end of each period, a hospice physician must re-certify that you are terminally ill and therefore, still eligible for hospice care. It is possible for a patient’s conditions and symptoms to stabilize or go into remission while on hospice care. If a patient stabilizes on hospice care, he/she is discharged from hospice services. Patients can be re-certified for hospice care again if his/her health begins to decline and a doctor believes he/she meets the requirements for hospice.