Managing pain, medication, and caregiving at the late stages of a terminal illness can be physically and emotionally exhausting. The goal of hospice care is to ease
that time, for both the patient and their family. The modern hospice movement was created in the late 60s, began to gain acceptance in the late 1970s, and was added to Medicare’s benefits in 1986.
Who is eligible for Medicare coverage of hospice?
There are two requirements for eligibility: the patient must be entitled to Medicare Part A, and they must be certified by their doctor to have a life expectancy of six months or less, given the normal course of their illness. That does not mean, however, that the benefit ends after six months. Once the six-month period is over, the patient is eligible for additional 60-day periods. How many? As many as they need. Some people remain in hospice for years if they still have a life expectancy of six months or less. Others leave hospice if they go into remission, reentering it if they ever need to.
What does the Medicare hospice benefit cover?
Medicare covers any care offered by a Medicare-approved provider that is reasonable and necessary to make the patient more comfortable. This care includes:
- Medical services provided by doctors and nurse practitioners
- Nursing care
- Social work services
- Medication for management of symptoms and pain
- Medical supplies
- Short-term inpatient and respite care
- Home health aide services
- Psychological counseling
- Spiritual counseling
- Bereavement counseling
Two important benefits are:
- Therapies, such as physical, occupational, and speech therapy, which are provided for comfort or symptom relief
- Coverage of all medication related to the illness, for no more than a $5 co-pay. Since pain medication is often extremely expensive, this benefit alone can remove a tremendous amount of stress from the family.
In addition to providing world-class rehabilitative care, with a specialty in pulmonary rehabilitation, Laurel Bay Health and Rehabilitation Center, in the scenic beach town of Keansburg, NJ, has developed a hospice program that offers its residents and their families the sensitive care they need at this difficult time, including the privacy of their own suites.
Moreover, our staff knows the Medicare and Medicaid system, and can allow families to focus on what is most important, rather than paperwork.
Or better yet, come see for yourself. Contact us to schedule a tour by clicking here or by calling (372) 787-8100.