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~ Frequently Asked Questions About Hospice ~

What is Hospice?

What is hospice care?

Who is on the hospice team?

What are the goals in hospice care?

How do I get Medicare to pay for hospice care?

What services are covered by Medicare?

What services are not covered by Medicare?

What is my out-of-pocket cost?

What are some of the symptoms of approaching death?

Hospice-Related Links

General Disclaimer

Webring - Hospice


What is Hospice?

Hospice is comfort (palliative) care for people of any age who have a terminal illness as well as their families. It means taking care of the whole person - body, mind, spirit, heart and soul - and looks at dying as something natural and personal. Hospice staff are available twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. To find good palliative care services in your community, talk to your doctor, local hospital, hospice, nursing homes, Area Agency on Aging, or home health agency.

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What is Hospice Care?

According to the The National Hospice Association of America (1-800-658-8898), "the center of hospice is the belief that each of us has the right to die pain-free and with dignity, and that our loved ones will receive the necessary support to allow us to do so."

Palliative care respects the goals, likes, and choices of the dying person. It looks after the medical, emotional, social, and spiritual needs of everyone involved. It helps you to gain access to needed health care providers and appropriate care settings. It also builds ways to provide excellent care at the end of life. These principles were developed for people who are dying as well as their family and loved ones by the Last Acts Task Forces on Palliative Care and the Family, which is a coalition of more than three hundred organizations representing health care providers and consumers nationwide. These agencies believe that everyone can make a difference in the care given to dying people and their families, working together to make these principles a reality.

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Who is on the hospice team?

The hospice team usually consists of: the family/caregiver, the family physician, medical director or hospice physician, nurses, home health aides, social workers, clergy, counselors, trained volunteers, and speech, occupational, or physical therapies if needed.

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What are the goals in hospice care?

Medicare defines the goal of hospice this way "provide comfort care when a cure is no longer an option." Click here to obtain State Specific Medicare Information (1-800-633-4227). According to Last Acts, the goal of palliative care is to provide the best quality of life for the terminal person during death and dying.

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How do I get Medicare to pay for hospice care?

To become eligibile for Medicare hospice benefits, first the individual must be certified by their doctor as well as the hospice medical director as terminally ill (this means their life expectancy is considered to be at a maximum of six months). The second step includes signing a statement choosing palliative (comfort) care rather than curative care. The last step is enrolling in a Medicare-approved hospice program. It is important to know that patients have full Medicare coverage for any health care needs unrelated to the terminal diagnosis even if they elect to have hospice care as long as they continue to pay the deductibles and copayment amounts.

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What services are covered by Medicare?

Medicare Hospice Benefit covers services as long as they relate to the terminal diagnosis and are outlined in the patient's care plan. These include physician care, regular home visits, homemaker services, home health aides, chaplain services (if desired), social work and counseling services, bereavement counseling, medical equipment and supplies, medicines for symptom control and pain relief, volunteer support, speech, physical, and /oroccupational therapy, and dietary counseling. The benefit reimburses for hospice services that are delivered insider or outside a private home, but DOES NOT cover expenses for room and board in a personal care or nursing home.

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What services are not covered by Medicare?

Medicare does not cover any services for conditions unrelated to the terminal illness nor sevices that are not called for in the hospice care plan or arranged for by the hospice program. What that means is that if you determine that you want to receive services that are not mentioned in your hospice plan of care, then you will have to pay the bill in full and Medicare will not cover the expense.

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What is my out-of-pocket cost?

Medicare pays hospice directly for care. Patients have to pay no more than five percent - up to $5 per prescription - for outpatient medicines used for pain relief and symptom control. Patients may also be responsible for five percent of the Medicare payment amount for inpatient respite care, if needed. Some hospices pay for all medications as long as they are in the formulary, but they are not yet being required to do this by Medicare. There is currently debate on whether or not all hospices should use their Medicare dollars to pay for all prescriptions their patients use. Legislation on this matter is being carefully considered.

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What are some of the symptoms of approaching death?

By knowing what to expect during death and dying and how to respond, you will give your loved one the gift of loving care. This information is to assist you, but understand that not all signs listed may appear.

An increased amount of time may be spent sleeping and it may be difficult to arouse your loved one due to a change in the body's metabolism.


Hospice-Related Links

The Hospice Association of America (1-201-546-4759).


General Disclaimer

This page contains general information about hospice care but should NOT be a substitute for professional advice from your family physician. PLEASE contact your local hospice agencies (or call your local United Way for a listing of all of the agencies serving your area) to discuss your particular circumstances.


Webring - Hospice

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