Advertisement

Toni Says: Did you know Medicare provides hospice care at no cost?

Hospice will cover all medical care for terminal illness, and Original Medicare or Medicare Advantage Plan will pay for unrelated health problems.
 
Hospice will cover all medical care for terminal illness, and Original Medicare or Medicare Advantage Plan will pay for unrelated health problems.
Hospice will cover all medical care for terminal illness, and Original Medicare or Medicare Advantage Plan will pay for unrelated health problems. [ Shutterstock ]
Published May 3, 2023

Dear Toni,

As a certified case manager and critical care unit registered nurse, I advise spouses and adult children who are seeking advice for end-of-life issues. Those who have serious health care issues should be offered every option for proper planning for end-of-life care, especially hospice!

Can you explain hospice and respite care to your readers? I am sure it will help those who are seeking assistance for their frail loved ones while allowing the primary caregiver some well-needed rest. Thanks in advance.

- Susan from Spring, Texas

Toni King
Toni King [ Courtesy of Toni King ]

Susan:

Hospice is a subject no one wants to discuss with an elderly loved one. When a loved one is terminally ill, it takes an emotional toll on the caregiver, the family, as well as the patient.

Many wait too long to discuss hospice benefits with the patient’s doctor because they believe hospice is for the last days to help a person die peacefully. They are not aware that hospice can give hope along this journey through education, medication to manage symptoms, support to the patient and family, and counseling services for the patient, family members and caregivers.

Health care professionals in the hospice system include physicians, nurses, social workers, spiritual counselors, certified nursing assistants and volunteers. A hospice provider comes to where the patient lives to provide care.

The Medicare & You handbook explains what hospice is in Medicare terms and what Medicare covers for hospice under Part A. A doctor who orders hospice must certify that a patient is terminally ill and has 6 months or less to live. When a patient agrees to hospice care, they agree to comfort care (palliative care) instead of treatment to cure the illness and must sign a statement choosing hospice care instead of other Medicare-covered treatments for the terminal illness.

Hospice can be recertified every 6 months by a hospice medical director or hospice doctor if the patient is still terminally ill. Original Medicare will be billed for the hospice care.

Hospice will cover all medical care for terminal illness, and Original Medicare or Medicare Advantage Plan will pay for unrelated health problems (co-pays will apply). Medicare-certified hospice care is usually given in the home or other facility, like a nursing or a personal-care home. Additional details on hospice are explained in Chapter 2 of the Medicare Survival Guide Advanced edition.

Under hospice:

-- You pay nothing for hospice care (Medicare pays)

-- You pay a copayment of up to $5 per prescription for outpatient prescription drugs for pain and symptom management.

-- You pay nothing for Medicare-approved inpatient respite care, which is a 5-day stay in a Medicare-approved facility so that the caregiver can have a period of rest.

You can go on this journey helplessly or choose to have control over yours or a loved one’s end-of-life plan of care. Know that hospice provides comfort, dignity, love and support. Talk with a geriatric case manager or geriatric doctor if you have concerns or need advice with your loved one’s terminal health care issue.

Currently, my mother is in hospice due to dementia, and I am experiencing everything that hospice offers. It is truly a blessing for those who have a terminally ill loved one.

• • •

Toni King is an author and columnist on Medicare and health insurance issues. She spent nearly 30 years as a top sales leader in the field. If you have a Medicare question, email info@tonisays.com or call 832-519-8664. You can now visit www.seniorresource.com/medicare-moments to listen to her Medicare Moments podcasts and get other information for boomers/seniors. The publisher of Toni’s book, “Medicare Survival Guide Advanced” edition, is now offering a $10 discount to Toni Says readers and friends at www.tonisays.com and www.seniorresource.com