Hospice care involves providing physical and emotional care for a patient who is not expected to live. This care is usually provided at home, and is covered by your Medicare Part A health insurance, however, Medicare also covers approved hospice facilities.
To qualify for hospice on Medicare your doctor must first certify that you are terminally ill and have less than six months to live. Also, you must agree to forgo treatment for your illness and opt for comfort care (palliative care) instead, and sign a document to that effect. After that, Medicare kicks in and covers the majority of the costs.
What Does Hospice Care Include?
Medicare covered hospice care includes the following:
- Doctor, nursing, and skilled nursing services;
- Counseling services for you and your family;
- Drugs and other medications to help manage pain and symptoms;
- Medical supplies and equipment;
- Inpatient care to help relieve symptoms, and for respite for caregivers;
- Various other services and therapies.
- The following would not be covered:
- Any form of treatment to cure your terminal illness – once you seek treatment you are no longer considered under hospice care;
- Any drug intended to cure your illness instead of only provide relief;
- Outside health care that is not part of the hospice team;
- Ambulance transportation or emergency room treatment that has not been arranged by the hospice team.
How Much Does Hospice Care Cost?
Your costs during hospice care are minimal. The care itself costs nothing and there is no deductible. For prescription drugs to help manage pain and symptoms you pay only $5 copayment per prescription. If your doctor is not part of the hospice team you would pay the usual deductible and coinsurance for doctor visits. If you live at home or in a nursing home you have to cover your own room and board.
In conclusion, seniors, when the time comes Medicare is able to provide hospice care if needed.