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Understanding Medicare’s hospice benefit

Hospice allows you and your family to remain together in the comfort of your home or residence. Your specially trained hospice team includes a doctor, nurses, a social worker, hospice aides, volunteers and others to help you and your loved ones manage and cope with your illness. Hospice nurses and doctors are available 24 hours a day to provide support and care.

If you think hospice may be a good option for you or a loved one, consult with a hospice medical director or doctor and discuss care options and pain and symptom management. Under the Medicare hospice benefit, the following services are covered:

  • doctors’ services
  • nursing care
  • hospice aide home visits
  • physical and occupational therapy
  • speech therapy
  • social worker services
  • dietary counseling
  • grief counseling for the patient and family members
  • short-term inpatient care for pain and symptom management
  • medical equipment and supplies, such as wheelchairs and bandages
  • pain-relieving drugs and drugs that control symptoms
  • any other Medicare-covered services needed to manage pain or symptoms—as recommended by the hospice team

Inpatient respite care is also available to give caregivers a rest from their responsibilities. Patients are cared for in a Medicare-approved facility, such as a hospital or nursing home, during this time.

What’s not covered?

While Medicare’s hospice benefit covers most of your care-related costs, a few things aren’t covered.

These include:

  • treatments aimed at curing your terminal illness
  • care from another hospice that wasn’t arranged by your hospice provider
  • care from another provider who gives the same kind of care you should get from hospice

Length of benefits

You can receive care as long as the hospice medical director or other hospice doctor recertifies that you have a life-limiting illness. You can stop hospice care at any time and, if you still meet the eligibility requirements, resume it if you need to.