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Does medicare cover hospice care?

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Updated April 08, 2005

Question: Does medicare cover hospice care?
I have a relative entering a hospice facility, does medicare cover hospice care.
This facility is not part of a hospital.
Answer: Beneficiaries are eligible for Medicare hospice benefits if they are-
  • Eligible for Medicare Part A ( Hospital Insurance)
  • Doctor ("attending physician) and the hospice medical director certify that you are terminally ill and have less than six months to live
  • Receive care from a Medicare-approved hospice program.
  • Beneficiary signs a statement choosing hospice care instead of routine Medicare covered benefits for your terminal illness. The revocation of Medicare coverage applies only to palliative care services for the terminal condition; therefore, any services that are not related to the terminal illness should continue to be billed as usual.
Room and board are not covered by Medicare if care is received in the patients home or if they live in a nursing home or hospice residential facility. In certain cases depending on the level of services provided, the costs for room and board are included in Medicare's payment (for example, when a hospice patient is admitted to a hospital or respite level of care).

Services covered are-

  • Doctor services
  • Nursing care
  • Medical equipment (i.e. wheelchairs or walkers)
  • Medical supplies (i.e. bandages and catheters
  • drugs for symptom control and pain relief
  • Short-term care in hospital, including respite care
  • Home health aide and homemaker services
  • Physical and occupational therapy
  • Speech therapy
Hospice providers also provide spiritual counseling services and social work services. Many have volunteers who have been through loss recently and can provide support for both patient and family. Most also offer grief counseling services for families.

Talk with your hospice provider about the coverage details. They are well versed on Medicare rules and should be able to give you details on what Medicare will cover for their specific level of care.

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