Frequently Asked Questions About Hospice Care
- What’s the difference between hospice and palliative care?
This is a common question for patients and families who are coping with serious illness.
Ultimately, the goals of both hospice and palliative care are very similar: to relieve symptoms of a serious illness, provide comfort from pain and improve quality of life for the whole family. Yet how these goals are achieved and when a person is eligible for each type of care can be very different. Learn more about eligibility, services provided and similarities.
- How do you pay for hospice care?
Hospice care is paid for through the Medicare Hospice Benefit, Medicaid Hospice Benefit and most private insurers. Find out more
The Medicare Hospice Benefit
The Medicare hospice benefit covers virtually all aspects of hospice care with little out-of-pocket expense to the patient or family. As a result, the financial burden often associated with caring for a seriously ill patient is lifted.
Medicare covers these hospice services and pays nearly all of their costs:
- Doctor services.
- Nursing care.
- Medical equipment (like wheelchairs or walkers).
- Medical supplies (like bandages and catheters).
- Drugs for symptom control and pain relief.
- Short-term care in the hospital or hospice facility, including respite and inpatient for pain and symptom management.
- Home health aide and homemaker services.
- Physical and occupational therapy.
- Social work services.
- Dietary counseling.
- Grief support.
Medicare will still pay for covered benefits for any health problems that aren’t related to a terminal illness. Families making end-of-life decisions for a loved one need compassion and support, not financial worries. The Medicare Hospice Benefit helps alleviate these concerns.
The Medicaid Hospice Benefit
Medicaid is a government healthcare program that provides low-cost health insurance to low income individuals and families, pregnant women and the disabled. Medicaid-eligible patients will receive a hospice benefit that is nearly identical to the Medicare hospice benefit (see above).
For patients who are not eligible for the Medicare or Medicaid hospice benefit, private insurance might be an option. Most private insurance companies model their coverage after the Medicare benefit and cover all hospice costs.
- What is the timing for hospice care?
“If only we had called hospice sooner…..” is a comment we often hear from families who have experienced the benefits of AuthoraCare Collective.
It is a common misconception that hospice care is only for the last few days of life. In fact, patients and families can benefit most when they have hospice for the final weeks or months of life.
Medicare, Medicaid and most insurance plans provide coverage for hospice care when physicians predict a patient has six months or less to live and curative treatment is no longer being sought. Please understand that the six-month prognosis is merely a guideline. Hospice re-evaluates patients every 60 days and, as long as their conditions continue to decline, they are re-certified for hospice coverage for as long as they live.
If you are unsure whether you or your loved one is ready to benefit from hospice, please call us at 800.588.8879 or [email protected]
- Won’t doctors tell us when it’s time for hospice care?
Not always. Many physicians hesitate to broach the subject of hospice. Frequently, they will continue to pursue treatment because they assume that’s what you want. In other cases, such as congestive heart failure or COPD, it is difficult for them to predict the rate of a patient’s decline. When a doctor does mention hospice, even casually, you should discuss it immediately. In fact, he or she may actually be relieved if you bring up the subject. It is important that you understand the benefits of curative vs. comfort care, and that you and your doctor share the same goals for maintaining quality of life.
- What are some signs that a person may be ready for hospice care?
- Repeated hospitalizations or trips to the ER.
- Failure to “bounce back” after medical set-backs occur.
- Increasing assistance needed for walking, eating, bathing, dressing or going to the toilet.
- An increase in pain, nausea, breathing distress or other symptoms.
- Decreasing alertness—patient is emotionally withdrawn, sleeping more or having increased difficulty with comprehension.
- What are some signs that our family could benefit from hospice care?
- You are physically or emotionally exhausted from caring for your loved one.
- Your family is feeling isolated because of caregiving demands or the uncertainties you feel about your loved one’s future.
- The patient or members of your family appear to need emotional support to cope with the impending death.
- You are overwhelmed by the myriad of physical, financial, emotional and spiritual concerns arising because of the illness.
- Can a patient stop having hospice care?
Yes, patients always have the right to choose the type of care they receive. If you and your physician decide to try another approach, we will assist you in making that transition.
- Can we call AuthoraCare Collective even if we don’t think it’s “time”?
Absolutely. AuthoraCare Collective offers more than hospice. We offer a variety of services to help sustain comfort of body, mind and spirit so you can author more moments that matter … regardless of the stage of your illness.
We’re authorities in our array of disciplines, caring for your well-being physically, emotionally and spiritually – provided with our signature perspective of putting your needs and wishes first, so you can find more joy in the story you’re creating.
You don’t need a physician referral to call us for information. If it appears that hospice care would be beneficial, we will—with your permission—contact your doctor to discuss it.
Contact us as soon as you have questions or concerns about end-of-life care options. Your physician can also contact us directly. Consultations by an AuthoraCare hospice nurse are available when appropriate. Our Referral Center will be glad to answer your questions. Contact Us.
- When is hospice care appropriate?
Hospice care is appropriate when a patient has a life-limiting illness and a prognosis of six months or less if the disease runs its normal course. It can be considered at any stage of a terminal illness, providing support and comfort during this difficult time.
- How long can a patient receive hospice care?
The length of hospice care varies depending on the individual’s needs and the progression of their illness. Hospice care from AuthoraCare Collective can be provided for as long as the patient’s condition meets the eligibility criteria for hospice care and their doctor certifies the need for continued services.