Some key facts about hospice:

  • Hospice helps those who are terminally ill live comfortably
  • Hospice isn’t only for people who are  diagnosed with cancer
  • The focus is on comfort care, not on curing illnesses
  • A specially trained team of professionals provide care for the “whole person,” including your physical, emotional, social and spiritual needs
  • Services may include physical care, counseling, prescription drugs, and equipment and supplies for the terminal illness and related conditions
  • Care is generally in a patient’s home or in a home-like setting
  • Care can be provided in a board and care, assisted living facility, or skilled nursing facility (with contract)
  • Family and caregivers can get support

Who qualifies for Hospice Program?

If you have Medicare Part A (Hospital Insurance) AND meet all of these conditions, you can get hospice care:

  • Your regular doctor (if you have one) and the hospice medical director certify that you have a life-altering condition with a life expectancy of 6 months or less.
  • You accept palliative care (for comfort) instead of care to cure your illness.
  • You sign a statement choosing hospice care instead of other Medicare-covered benefits to treat your terminal illness and related conditions.

You can get hospice care for two 90-day benefit periods followed by an unlimited number of 60-day benefit periods.

 At the start of each benefit period, the hospice medical director and your doctor must recertify that you’re terminally ill (with a life expectancy of 6 months or less) so you can continue to get hospice care. 

You always have the right to opt out of hospice care for any reason. If you’re eligible, you can go back to hospice care at any time.

What’s covered under Hospice program:

Hospice care is usually given in your home, but it may also be covered in a hospice inpatient facility. 

Depending on your terminal illness and related conditions, the plan of care that your hospice team creates can include any or all of these services:

  • Doctor services
  • Nursing care
  • Durable medical equipment (such as hospital beds)
  • Medical supplies (such bandages and catheters)
  • Prescription drugs related to comfort care
  • Hospice aids for hygiene care
  • Physical and occupational therapy for safety or equipment teaching
  • Speech-language pathology services for swallow evaluations
  • Social worker services
  • Dietary counseling
  • Grief and loss counseling for you and your family
  • Short-term respite care (5 days)

If your primary caregiver needs a rest, you can request for inpatient respite care in a Medicare-approved facility (like a hospice inpatient facility, hospital or nursing home). Your hospice provider will arrange this for you.