Hospice Services and Expenses

Hospice Foundation of America

Hospice care provides the greatest benefits to the patient and family when life expectancy is approximately six months. While patients must have a doctor's referral to enter hospice, the patient, family and friends can initiate the process by contacting a local hospice program to ask for an assessment.

The hospice staff will meet with the patient's personal physician(s) and a hospice physician to discuss patient history, current physical symptoms and life expectancy.

The hospice staff will also meet with both the patient and his/her familyto discuss the hospice philosophy, available services and expectations.

Staff and patients also discuss pain and comfort levels, support systems, financial and insurance resources, medications and equipment needs.

All of this information is used to develop an individual "plan of care." This plan is regularly reviewed and revised according to the patient's needs and wishes.

Bereavement services and counseling are typically available to loved ones for a year after the patient's death.

The majority of hospice takes place in someone's home, but can also take place in an inpatient facility or assisted living facility or nursing home.

Hospice care is a covered benefit under Medicare for patients with a prognosis of six months or less. A patient can remain in hospice care beyond six months if a physician re-certifies that the patient's condition continues to make him or her appropriate for hospice care.

This benefit covers all services, medications and equipment related to the illness. These may include:

  • Physician services
  • Nursing services
  • Home health aide services
  • Medical appliances and supplies
  • Spiritual, dietary, and other counseling
  • Short-term inpatient care during crisis periods
  • Trained volunteers
  • Bereavement services

Most states and the District of Columbia offer hospice coverage under Medicaid.

Many private health insurance policies and HMO's offer hospice coverage and benefits.

Hospice services are covered under Champus/Tricare.

Regular Medicare coverage is available to Hospice beneficiaries for non-terminal related services.

There is no mandatory nationwide accreditation. Many programs are accredited by the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO) or by the Community Health Accreditation Program (CHAP).

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