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Find answers to commonly asked questions about hospice care. Get information on eligibility, services provided, cost coverage, and more.

What is hospice?
Hospice is a philosophy of care. It treats the person rather than the disease and focuses on the quality of life. It surrounds the patient and family with a team of professionals who address not only physical distress but emotional and spiritual issues as well.
Who pays for the service?
Hospice is covered by Medicare, Medicaid, and most private insurance plans. Hospice is for patients with a life expectancy of six months or less, should the disease follow its natural course. The hospice benefit provides care for the last six months of life, but sadly, 40 percent of patients are in hospice for less than seven days.
When is it time for hospice?
A person does not have to be bedridden or in their final days of life to receive hospice care. It is most beneficial when the patient and family can receive care early to take advantage of the many benefits hospice care can offer. It can be used for months as long as medical eligibility is met.

Hospice should be considered when:

  • Despite medical treatment, there is a significant decline in physical and/or cognitive status. This may include increased pain or other symptoms, substantial weight loss, extreme fatigue, shortness of breath, or weakness.
  • The goal is to live more comfortably and forego the often physically debilitating treatments that have been unsuccessful in curing or halting a life-threatening illness.
  • Life expectancy is six months or less, according to physicians.
How does one qualify for service?
A hospice physician and a second physician (often the individual’s attending physician or specialist) must certify that the patient meets specific medical eligibility criteria indicating that an individual’s life expectancy is six months or less if the illness or condition runs its typical course. These established criteria vary by illness and condition.

However, self and family referral is possible to determine if a patient meets hospice criteria.

Caregiver assisting elderly