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The Truth about Hospice


There is a common misconception that choosing hospice means giving up hope. The facts about hospice, however, prove otherwise. Diminishing hope? Hardly. Given the time, hospice actually relieves suffering, promotes dignity and facilitates closure for patients and families. Those are the benefits of hospice care.

The hospice team is specially trained in end-of-life care, which can be provided anywhere the patient calls home, whether that’s assisted living, a nursing home or a private residence. Hospice care can also be provided in hospitals and facilities that cater exclusively to hospice patients.

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Hospice is full of hope. Some hospice patients experience an improvement in their health, often a result of the solicitous care and benefits of hospice care; some even choose to revoke their Medicare hospice benefit for a while.

But even when the disease continues to progress as expected, studies show that terminally ill patients who receive hospice care can live longer than similar patients who don’t receive hospice.

Hospice patients gain a sense of relief and control. Regular visits from their nurse and hospice aide get pain and other symptoms under control and prevent emergency hospital visits. Being at home, surrounded by family and friends, can improve quality of life. Chats with the team social worker or chaplain address emotional pain. Slowly, a hospice patient—and their family—begin looking forward to tomorrow.

The benefits of hospice care empower patients and their caregivers. Patients can control how they live out their final months; caregivers can benefit from physical and emotional support while spending quality time with their loved ones.

Who Pays for Hospice?

There is no reason to defer hospice care due to financial concerns. The Medicare Hospice Benefit is an inclusive benefit, in which all services that are related to the terminal illness are covered 100 percent by Medicare part A. There are no co-pays or out-of-pocket expenses. Care that is unrelated to the terminal illness continues to be covered by Medicare Parts A and B, with all normal rules applicable (e.g., co-payments, coverage guidelines and deductibles). Coverage includes everything involved in hospice care, from visits by a nurse, physician and other healthcare professionals to therapy, medication and supplies.

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