HOW AND WHEN DOES HOSPICE START?
Anyone can inquire about hospice services. You or your loved one may call a local hospice and request services. The hospice staff will then contact your physician to determine if a referral to hospice is appropriate. Another way to inquire about hospice is to talk with your physician, and he or she can make a referral to hospice.
Hospice can begin as soon as a ‘referral’ is made by the person’s doctor. The hospice staff will then contact the person referred to set up an initial meeting to review the services the hospice will offer and sign the necessary consent forms for care to begin. Usually, care is ready to begin within a day or two of a referral. However, in urgent situations, service may begin sooner.
HOSPICE CARE IS NOT LIMITED TO SIX MONTHS OF SERVICE.
- The Medicare Hospice Benefit requires that a terminally-ill patient have a prognosis of six months or less: There is not a six-month limit to hospice care services.
- Hospice eligibility requirements should not be confused with length of service.
- A patient in the final phase of life may receive hospice care for as long as necessary when a physician certifies that he or she continues to meet eligibility requirements.
- Under the Medicare Hospice Benefit, two 90-day periods of care (a total of six months) are followed by an unlimited number o 60-day periods.
PAYING FOR HOSPICE
Hospice is paid for through the Medicare Hospice Benefit, Medicaid Hospice Benefit and most private insurers. If a person does not have coverage through Medicare, Medicaid or a private insurance company, hospice will work with the person and their family to ensure needed services can be provided.
WHAT DOES MEDICARE COVER?
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, including respite and inpatient for pain and symptom management
- Home health aide and homemaker services
- Physical and occupational therapy
- Speech therapy
- Social work services
- Dietary counseling
- Grief support to help you and your family
Learn more from National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization (nhpco.org)