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Content Overview

Hospice Care 101



Hospice care is is both a type of care and philosophy of care that focuses on providing the best quality of life, with the least amount of pain and discomfort, as well as taking care of emotional and spiritual needs. It is a shift from fighting a health condition. 

Hospice care can be provided in a variety of settings including the comfort of your own home, a home-like setting in a hospice facility, a nursing home, or in a hospice section of a hospital.

Hospice care is generally paid for by health insurance (including Medicare and Medicaid). Free hospice care is usually available if you don't have either hospice coverage or the money to pay yourself.

In order to be admitted to hospice care, it is generally required that there is a life-expectancy of six months or less. Some hospices permit people to start hospice care with a life expectancy of up to 12 months. Many insurance companies are extending coverage to match, and are also allowing continuing treatment for the illness in addition to care.

Once hospice care is started, it can be stopped at any time. The patient can return to aggressive treatment for a cure or otherwise go about living.

There is generally no outer time limit about how long a person can remain in hospice.  However,  the hospice benefit is usually reviewed quarterly to determine whether the patient continues to meet eligibility ceriteria. If eligiblity continues, the benefit is usually renewed for another quarter. 

Research has shown that patients and families who use hospice services report a higher quality of life than those who don’t. 

Patient advocates generally recommend considering hospice care earlier during treatment rather than waiting untll death is imminent. Studies show that patients who enter hospice care earlier actually live longer than people who do not. 

If you are interested in hospice, let your doctor know. There is no reason to wait for a doctor to start the discussion about hospice care.

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