The goal of both hospice and palliative care is to improve a person’s quality of life when they have a life-threatening illness. The main difference between the two is when a person receives each type of care.
A person can start receiving palliative care as soon as they’re diagnosed, regardless of the stage of illness they’re in. They can also have palliative care while getting treatment that will hopefully cure their illness. An example of palliative care is getting mental health support while going through chemotherapy to treat cancer.
Hospice care focuses on comfort care given to a person near the end of their life — generally, someone who has about six months to live or less. A person receives hospice care when they’re no longer responding to curative treatment. A person with muscular dystrophy who is near the end of their life might receive medication to manage pain and grief support counseling for the family as part of hospice care.
You can have hospice and palliative care at home, at a hospital or in another type of care facility, such as a nursing home. Here are some more common hospice and palliative care questions and answers you might have about other aspects of these two types of care.
Who pays for hospice care at home?
Medicare, the Veterans’ Administration (VA) and the Department of Defense (DoD) pay for hospice care at home and in other facilities. Medicare will also often pay for hospice care, but this varies by state. If you have private insurance or insurance through work, it might also cover hospice. Some hospice organizations also cover all or part of the costs of care for people who don’t have other coverage.
Does Medicare pay for hospice?
Yes, Medicare Parts A, B and C cover hospice. You’ll need to choose a hospice provider that is enrolled in and accepts Medicare.
How long will Medicare pay for hospice?
Medicare will cover hospice for as long as your doctor continues to certify that you have a life expectancy of six months or less. If six months pass, your doctor will need to recertify. They can continue to recertify an indefinite number of times for 60 days at a time.
Does hospice take your assets?
No, neither Medicare, Medicaid, VA benefits or insurance plans take your assets. They pay for hospice care without taking away from your investments, home, vehicles, savings or other assets. Most people have their hospice care covered by these programs, although about 3 percent of people cover their own hospice care.
How much does hospice cost?
If you have Medicare, hospice care will cost you nothing. You’ll have a $5 copay for medication to treat pain and symptoms. Medicaid and other insurance coverage will vary, so consult your insurance provider to see how much it covers. If you were paying out-of-pocket for hospice care, the average hospice care at home cost is $150 per day, while costs average $500 per day for inpatient care.
How to find hospice care
To find a hospice program, try any of the following resources:
- Ask your doctor or hospital discharge planner to refer you to hospice care providers.
- Ask the hospice organization in your state or its department of health and social services for a list of licensed hospice care providers.
- Contact the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization or the National Association for Home Care and Hospice Care for hospice care providers near you.
- Check with your insurance provider.
Who pays for palliative care?
Medicare covers some but not all costs for palliative care. It will not cover hospitalization, but it does cover costs that fall under Medicare Part B, such as doctor visits. Medicare Part C (Medicare Advantage) may cover costs that Medicare Parts A and B do not. Medicaid coverage varies by state, and other insurance coverage also varies.
How to find palliative care
Ask your doctor to make a referral for palliative care providers or talk to your hospital. Most hospitals provide palliative care. You can also search the directory of providers online at the Center to Advance Palliative Care.
Why choose palliative care?
Along with focusing on quality of life improvement, palliative care also lowers medical expenses. It does this by reducing the need for hospital admissions, emergency room visits and other health care costs. Receiving palliative care can reduce your total health care costs by 36 percent.
Learn about the hospice and palliative care services we offer at Bon Secours.