End-of-life decisions can be very hard for you, your spouse, and the rest of your family. There are so many choices to make, decisions on how to spend your final days, weeks, or months before passing away. Home health care, the occasional respite care for family caregivers, and hospice care are just a few of the options available.
Medicare and Hospice
Although hospice care usually refers to short-term care following an accident or perhaps a long-struggle with a terminal illness. If a Medicare beneficiary has a life expectancy of less than six months, many of the costs associated with hospice care are covered by Original Medicare (Medicare Part A and Part B).
If you are choosing to receive hospice care, Medicare stipulates that the end-of-life care you receive will be palliative care and not care to help cure your illness. A hospice patient will be made as comfortable as possible, but life-saving measures won’t be taken in the time leading up to the final passing.
Medicare will pay for hospice care only if your regular doctor (if applicable) and a hospice doctor can attest to your terminal illness. You will also need to sign a statement that you are choosing comfort care over attempts to cure your illness. Medicare Part A is mostly responsible for these costs, including:
- Services, needed durable medical equipment, and other items related to the comfort of the patient
- Skilled nursing, medical attention, and social services
- Prescription drugs for pain management (co-pays may apply)
- Homemaker services, including parts of inpatient respite care
- Spiritual counsel, grief counseling, and other services to manage pain or symptoms
There are some items that Medicare won’t cover as part of your hospice care. In addition to any care or medication meant to cure your illness or prolong life, Medicare will only pay for services or hospice facilities that were determined by the hospice medical team. For example, if you want to move from the skilled nursing facility in your plan to a different facility, Medicare will stop paying for your care.
Unless it has been predetermined by your hospice team, outpatient care at a hospital (such as an emergency room visit) or ambulance transportation will not be covered either. If receiving hospice from home, a nursing home, or hospice inpatient facility, Medicare does not pay for room and board. However, if the hospice team determines that short-term inpatient or respite care is needed, Medicare will pay for those services.
Although these are difficult times for yourself and your family, you don’t want to compound the stress by incurring unwanted or large hospice facility bills if you don’t have to. Check with your doctor and hospice medical director to make sure you understand what is covered – and what is not covered – in your hospice care plan.
Finding The Best Medicare Plan For You
Planning for terminal illnesses or end-of-life care isn’t a very pleasant thought, but it is necessary to ensure you will be made comfortable during those final months. Even if you’re in great health, it’s important to know which Medicare plans will cover those unforeseen circumstances.
When you work with VibrantUSA, we take the time to understand what you need and what you want from your Medicare plans. The more we know about you, the more we can find the right Medicare insurance at the best price. The peace of mind knowing you (and your family) will be protected if serious illness hits is invaluable.
Whether it’s navigating the nuances of Original Medicare, finding the right prescription drug coverage, or managing the costs of Medicare Advantage Plans, VibrantUSA has access to more than 50 different plans from more than 30 different carriers. We’ll find the right plan for you.
As an independent agency, we are not bound to a specific insurance company. This gives us the freedom to choose the plans, and the costs, that work best for you. Since 2003, we have been helping clients with their Medicare choices. If you are nearing retirement age, or need to make changes to current plans, reach out to VibrantUSA. We’re here to help you.