Hospice – Discover a Free Medicare Benefit

Hospice services are available twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. There is always a nurse on call at night and on weekends. The nurse will visit a…

Hospice services are available twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. There is always a nurse on call at night and on weekends. The nurse will visit a patient as long and as often as necessary to ensure quality care. Because of this wonderful service, many people are under the impression that hospice care is expensive, and believe they cannot afford such treatment. However Medicare, Medicaid and private insurance companies cover hospice care and services. This would include, but is not limited to, medications, medical supplies, nursing care, home health aides and social services. In 1983, Congress established the Medicare Hospice Benefit, covered under Medicare Part A, to ensure that all beneficiaries could receive high-quality end-of-life care. In order to receive the Medicare Hospice Benefit, the patient must meet three key criteria. First, the patient`s doctor must certify in his or her best clinical judgment that the patient is terminally ill with a life expectancy of six months or less. If the patient lives longer than six months, he or she can continue to receive hospice care as long as the doctor re-certifies that the patient is terminal and with declining health. The second key criterion is that the patient is willing to receive comfort care instead of curative treatments for their illness. For example, a patient could not be getting chemotherapy to cure their illness and be getting hospice care simultaneously. Hospice is intended be used once curative treatment is no longer an option. Finally, the patient needs to enroll in a Medicare-approved hospice program. This should be one of the first questions you ask in determining which hospice agency to use. More than 90% of hospices in the United States are certified by Medicare.