If you had a free benefit at your disposal, wouldn’t you want to take advantage of it? We are referring to the Medicare hospice benefit, a program of end-of-life pain management and comfort care for those with a terminal illness.
Don’t worry, you or your loved one are not the only people unaware of this benefit; many do not take full advantage of their Medicare hospice benefit. In fact, the average length of time most people use the hospice benefit, provided by Hosparus Health in our community, is 13 days. But Medicare, Medicaid and most commercial insurance plans cover 100% of the cost of hospice services for at least six months.
To be eligible for hospice, a patient must have a projected life expectancy of six months or less, assuming their diagnosis runs its natural course. Patients must also choose to stop curative treatments, electing to use pain and symptom management provided under hospice.
If you think you or your loved one may be eligible and you are enrolled in Medicare Part A, you must elect the benefit by:
- Having a hospice doctor certify that you have a terminal illness
- Signing a statement electing to have Medicare pay for hospice care, rather than curative care
- Receive care from a Medicare-certified hospice agency, such as Hosparus Health
The hospice services covered under the Medicare benefit include:
- Visits from an expert care team that includes a physician, nurse practitioner, RN, certified nursing assistant, social worker, chaplain and volunteer
- All medication, medical equipment and supplies related to the hospice diagnosis
- Personal care such as bathing and light housekeeping
- Assistance and resources to aid in completing an advance directive and other end-of-life decisions
- Grief counseling and bereavement services for patients, families and other loved ones for 13 months
- Respite for the family and companionship for the patient
In some cases, the compassionate care and pain and symptom management offered by hospice may actually help patients enjoy a better quality of life for a longer period of time. If a patient’s condition improves, he/she may stop hospice at any time and re-enroll later if necessary. Some patients may continue to receive hospice care for longer than six months if their physician provides a re-certification of their eligibility.
Have questions? We are available 24/7 to speak with you about our hospice and palliative care services. To learn more, click here.