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Hospice is a service to support a terminally ill patient’s physical, emotional, social and spiritual needs. Hospice concentrates on managing a patient’s pain and other symptoms so that the patient may live as comfortably as possible and make the most of their remaining time. Hospice also supports the patient’s family and caregivers, including grief and loss counseling.

Another advantage of hospice is that a hospice nurse can declare death and facilitate transportation to a mortuary. If someone dies at home and you call 911 and there is no DNR, paramedics may attempt emergency procedures.

Typically hospice care is provided in the patient’s home, with the majority of the day-to-day care falling on family members and caregivers. As this article on the “Cost of Dying..” points out, ” hospice has ballooned into a nearly $19 billion industry. It’s now the most profitable service sector in health care, as the industry’s business model relies heavily on unpaid family caregivers.”

As we increasingly see that we want to provide home-based care, we’re relying even more on caregivers. And it does take a toll.
-professor Katherine Ornstein, who studies the last year of life at Mount Sinai Hospital

Medicare will pay a set fee to qualified hospices for care of those with a terminal illness with a prognosis of six months or less to live. To stay on hospice, Medicare requires documented continued decline. Medicare will cover medications related to the terminal diagnosis and medical equipment, but will not pay for treatments intended to cure a terminal illness or treatments unrelated to the terminal diagnosis. The Medicare hospice benefit does not cover room and board in a nursing home or hospice residential facility. Some hospices provide extra services such as aroma, music therapy, etc. Some hospices have volunteers for extra support.

If you have a Medicare Advantage Plan you may be limited to hospices approved by the Medicare Advantage Plan.

You have the right to change your hospice provider once during each benefit period.

 

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