Senior Resources » Hospice Care » 1.61 Million Medicare Recipients Use Hospice Each Year – 10 Facts About Hospice You Didn’t Know

1.61 Million Medicare Recipients Use Hospice Each Year – 10 Facts About Hospice You Didn’t Know

life cycle flower concept

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.


1. Hospice is covered by Medicare, Medicaid, AND most other insurances.

hospice word

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.

2. Most hospice care is provided at home.

home care provider with husband and wife at bedside

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.


3. End-of-life care is for anyone.

nurse with curly hair smiling and holding clipboard

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!

4. There is no duration limit.

senior home care helping hands

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.

5. Hospice care can be discontinued.

flower growing from crack in the street

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 Hospice


6. Hospice is for the entire family.

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!

7. Hospice provides equipment.

blood pressure monitor

Procurement of hospice services also includes any medical equipment necessary for treatment. This can be walkers, lifts, wheelchairs, oxygen, or even hospital beds.

8. Hospice provides medical supplies.

IV in a hand

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.

9. Medication is included.


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.

10. Hospice is for any terminal condition.

hospice volunteer

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.


Do you need more help?

life cycle flower concept

Need more help with hospice? Then start with these resources:

Senior Resource Glossary of Hospice Terms

Find hospice care near me.

Medicare & More

Originally published April 14, 2023

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