Hospice is a special way of caring for a person who is dying.
Care is given in his/her home, a hospital, or a nursing home. This care includes physical care and counseling. It is designed for all age groups during their final stages of life. The goal of hospice is to comfort and care for you and your family and not to cure your illness.
Qualifying for hospice care
Your doctor and the hospice medical director confirm that your illness will not get better and you probably have less than six months to live.
Paying for hospice care
- Medicare: Hospice is covered under Medicare Part A, (hospital insurance). You must sign a statement choosing hospice care instead of routine Medicare-covered benefits. You must also receive care from a Medicare-approved hospice program. Medicare fully covers a number of services you will need. You will only have to pay part of the cost for outpatient drugs and inpatient respite care. You will pay no more than $5 for each prescription drug and other similar products. Your care manager can provide you and your family with more detailed information about your coverage.
- Medicaid: Medicaid will pay for hospice/home care as long as the Agency is a state-contracted Medicaid provider. There may be some restrictions.
- Commercial insurance: Coverage varies by policy. Your care manager (clinical resource coordinator or social worker) can help you find out what coverage you might have. You may be responsible for a co-payment.
- No insurance: You pay or you may be able to get assistance (such as Medicaid). A social worker can help you apply for assistance.
Arranging for hospice care
Your care manager (clinical resource coordinator or social worker) will work with you, your family, and your health care team to identify the agency to provide the services. A plan of care will be set up to meet your needs.
Length of hospice care
Under Medicare, hospice services are provided in "periods of care." Once hospice services are initiated, you can receive hospice care for two 90-day periods followed by an unlimited number of 60-day periods. Your doctor must confirm your need for continued hospice care at the start of each period.
- Volunteers are trained to help you with everyday tasks.
Members of the hospice team will make regular visits.
- If you are on Medicare, you will continue to use your Medicare Insurance for any health problems not related to your illness for which you are receiving hospice care.