Skip to content

Does Medicare cover hospice care?

En español | Medicare’s hospice benefit covers a wide range of free services — medical, social, emotional and spiritual — to provide as much comfort as possible to terminally ill people and their caregivers in the last days or months of life.

To qualify for the hospice benefit, you must meet all these conditions:

  • You must choose to receive hospice care and give up all treatments intended to cure your terminal illness.
  • Your doctor and the medical director of a hospice program must certify that you probably have less than six months to live.
  • You must enroll in a hospice program that Medicare has approved.
  • You must have Medicare Part A hospital insurance.

If you choose hospice care and qualify to receive it, you are offered the following services, usually in your own home and at little cost to you or your caregivers:

  • Medical and nursing care, plus round-the-clock on-call support
  • Medical equipment and supplies
  • Homemaker and home health care services
  • Physical therapy
  • Social work services and dietary counseling
  • Support for your caregiver(s)
  • Grief and loss counseling for you and your family

Your share of the cost in hospice is limited to 5 percent of the cost of respite care if you’re taken into a nursing home to give your caregiver a break; and a maximum of $5 per prescription for drugs used to control the symptoms and pain of your terminal illness. (However, you would pay for drugs unrelated to your terminal illness through your Part D prescription drug plan or other drug coverage you may have.)

You are free to stop hospice care any time you want to — and also to resume it again if that’s your wish. Medicare coverage continues for as long as your doctor and a hospice doctor continue to certify that you’re terminally ill, even if you live longer than six months.

For more information, and how to find a Medicare-approved hospice program, see the official publication “Medicare Hospice Benefits”.



Latest Health News

View More