Hospice Services and Expenses
Patients referred to hospice when life expectancy is approximately six months benefit most from hospice care. While patients must have a doctor's referral to enter hospice, the patient, family and friends can initiate the process by contacting a local hospice program.
Before providing care, hospice staff meets with the patient's personal physician(s) and a hospice physician to discuss patient history, current physical symptoms and life expectancy.
After an initial meeting with physicians, hospice staff meets with both the patient and their family. They discuss the hospice philosophy, available services and expectations.
Prior to service, staff and patients also discuss pain and comfort levels, support systems, financial and insurance resources, medications and equipment needs.
A "plan of care" is developed for the patient. This plan is regularly reviewed and revised according to patient condition.
Bereavement services and counseling are typically available to loved ones for a year after the patient's death.
Hospice care is a covered benefit under Medicare for patients with a prognosis of 6 months or less. A patient can remain in hospice care beyond six months if a physician re-certifies that the patient is terminally ill.
This benefit covers all services, medications and equipment related to the illness. These include:
Home health aides
Medical appliances and supplies
Spiritual, dietary, and other counseling
Continuous care during crisis periods
Nearly all states and the District of Columbia offer hospice coverage under Medicaid.
Many private health insurance policies and HMO's offer hospice coverage and benefits.
Hospice services are covered for military families under Tricare.
Regular Medicare coverage is available to Hospice beneficiaries for non-terminal related services.
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services establish certification procedures for hospices that provide Medicare covered hospice services.
There is no mandatory nationwide accreditation. Many programs are accredited by the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO) or by the Community Health Accreditation Program (CHAP).