Hospice care is specialized medical and comfort care for a person who is nearing the end of life. Hospice focuses on treating symptoms in a non-curative way. According to a recent study performed by the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization (NHPCO), over 1.61 million Medicare recipients benefit from hospice care each year. Even so, many seniors and family caregivers are not especially informed about all that hospice has to offer. So, let’s talk facts. Here are 10 things you probably didn’t know about hospice care.
Under Medicare and Medicaid, there is no out-of-pocket cost (or very little) to a patient. Most other insurances cover hospice as well. Medicare benefits will pay for hospice care when a senior is certified as terminally ill by their doctor, with a life expectancy of 6 months or less. A patient must also provide a signed statement to Medicare, indicating that they understand the insurance will no longer provide benefits for curative purposes.
Whether you live in a nursing home, assisted living, or your family house of 25 years, hospice can be there! Hospice care is provided anywhere that a patient calls home. In fact, according to NHPCO, routine home care accounted for over 98% of care provided by hospice in 2019.
Although the majority of hospice recipients are over the age of 65, around 20% are younger. Of course, this type of care extends to those of different cultures, backgrounds, and belief systems, as well. In other words, hospice care is a benefit for anyone who is in need!
To qualify for hospice care, a person must have a prognosis of 6 months or less to live. However, as long as the patient’s condition is still considered terminal, care can continue for as long as needed.
It’s a common misconception that once you’re in, you’re in. If a person gets better while under the care of hospice, it’s within their right to drop services. Also important to note—a person can reenter hospice if their prognosis changes yet again. Of course, you must meet eligibility requirements when electing hospice for a second time.
Related: How To Volunteer With HospiceAdvertisement.
Hospice isn’t just for the terminally ill patient. It also aims to comfort family and close loved ones. Benefits will include grief counseling and spiritual advisement, as well as social work. This will not only be a relief to the patient; it can be a huge relief for the entire family, as well!
Procurement of hospice services also includes any medical equipment necessary for treatment. This can be walkers, lifts, wheelchairs, oxygen, or even hospital beds.
In addition to equipment, you can also expect your hospice benefit to include supplies. This will include anything from wound dressing to gloves and even incontinence care supplies.
Medication that is used for symptom management and comfort is included with hospice. However, it’s important to note that benefits do not cover drugs meant to be a curative treatment.
Another common misconception is that only people with cancer can use hospice. But, actually, care is available to patients with a variety of conditions. A few of the most commonly treated conditions include Lung disease, congestive heart failure, and Alzheimer’s disease.
Need more help with hospice? Then start with these resources:
Originally published April 14, 2023