| Yes, Medicare’s hospice care benefits cover a wide range of 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.
The focus of hospice care is to provide comfort care, more formally known as palliative care, rather than medical treatment to cure your illness. You can receive Medicare-certified hospice care in your home, at an inpatient hospice center, or at a nursing home or other facility. Hospice care is covered under Medicare Part A.
Who is eligible for Medicare’s hospice benefits?
To qualify for Medicare’s hospice benefit, you must meet all the following conditions:
- Comfort care only. You sign a statement choosing to receive hospice care instead of other Medicare-covered treatments intended to cure your terminal illness.
- Death expected soon. Your hospice doctor and your regular doctor, if you have one, certify that you are terminally ill and have a life expectancy of six months or less.
- Program authorized. You enroll in a hospice program that Medicare has approved.
- Part A in place. You have Medicare Part A hospital insurance.
You can get hospice care for up to two 90-day periods, followed by an unlimited number of 60-day periods. At the start of each period of care, your hospice doctor needs to confirm that you're still terminally ill for you to continue receiving hospice care benefits.
What do Medicare’s hospice benefits cover?
If you qualify and choose to receive hospice care, the benefits should cover everything you need related to your terminal illness with very little cost to you. Your hospice team creates a care plan that may include the following covered services:
- Doctor services and nursing care.
- Drugs to help control your pain.
- Health aide and homemaker services.
- Medical equipment and supplies.
- Physical therapy, occupational therapy and speech and language pathology services.
- Short-term inpatient care in a Medicare-approved facility, such as a hospice facility, hospital or skilled nursing facility, for pain and symptom management. This also covers inpatient respite care to give your caregiver a break. You can get occasional respite care for up to five days each time.