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Understanding hospice

Most of us have heard of hospice, but do we really understand it?

Hospice is a program of care and support for people who are terminally ill. Hospice helps people who are terminally ill live comfortably and enhances their quality of life. The focus is on comfort, not cure.

A trained team of professionals and caregivers provide care for the patient's physical, emotional, social and spiritual needs.

Hospice isn't only for people with cancer. It's a program that you want to start early in the process to get the maximum benefit from their services.


Medicare covers the following hospice services when they are needed for care of your terminal illness and related conditions: Doctor services, nursing care, medical equipment, medical supplies, drugs for symptom control or pain relief (there may be a small copayment), home health aide and homemaker services, physical and occupational therapy, speech/language pathology services, social worker services, dietary counseling, grief/loss counseling for you and your family, short term inpatient care (for pain and symptom management), short term respite care (there may be a copayment) and any other Medicare-covered services needed to manage your pain and other symptoms related to your terminal illness.

When you choose hospice care, you have decided that you no longer want care to cure your terminal illness and your doctor has determined that efforts to cure your illness aren't working.


Medicare pays the hospice provider for your hospice care. There is no deductible. You will have to pay the following: No more than $5 for each prescription drug and other similar products for pain relief and symptoms control and if you choose inpatient respite care you will pay 5 percent of the Medicare approved amount.

Hospice care is intended for people with six months or less to live if the disease runs its normal course. If you live longer than six months, you can still get hospice care, as long as the hospice medical director or other hospice doctor recertifies that you are terminally ill.

You can get hospice care for two 90-day periods followed by an unlimited number of 60 day periods. If your health improves or your illness goes into remission, you no longer need hospice care.

You always have the right to stop hospice care at any time for any reason. If you stop your hospice care, you will get the type of Medicare coverage you had before you chose a hospice program. If you are eligible, you can go back to hospice at any time.

Choosing hospice care is a difficult decision. The support given by your physician and the trained hospice team can help you choose the most appropriate health care options for someone who is terminally ill.

If you have any questions regarding senior issues, contact me at (320) 762-3047.

Enjoy the rest of summer.