Visiting Nurse / Hospice Atlanta Blogs

Do You Know Your Eligibility for Medicare Hospice Benefits?

With a presidential election looming, there are many factors to consider when evaluating the candidates. Foremost among these is each candidate’s stance on healthcare reform, Medicare and other health benefits. Thinking about life-affirming policies such as access to hospice care is just one aspect of making your choice this election season.

Who Qualifies for Medicare Hospice Benefits?

Hospice care is designed to help people with life-limiting illnesses and their families navigate the end of life. Hospice is one of the benefits provided by Medicare. In particular, Medicare Part A covers hospice care. The services you receive from hospice care are covered by Original Medicare, even if you were in another Medicare health plan such as a Medicare Advantage Plan. It is important that you continue to pay Medicare premiums while receiving hospice care in order to avoid interruption of care services.

To receive hospice care covered by Medicare, your hospice doctor and your regular doctor must certify that you have a terminal illness with a life expectancy of less than six months. You must accept palliative care and certify that you choose hospice over other curative treatments.

If you or your loved one is a veteran, using your Medicare Hospice Benefit does not disqualify you from receiving other VA benefits for which you are eligible. Through the We Honor Veterans program, our staff is specially trained to help you navigate access to the benefits you’ve earned.

What Is Covered by Medicare Hospice Benefits?

Hospice care often includes services provided by a wide variety of health professionals, allowing you to receive physical, psychological, emotional and spiritual comfort during the end of life. Medicare benefits cover services from physicians, nurses, counselors, physical or occupational therapists, social workers, speech and language pathologists, homemakers, hospice aides and volunteers.

With Medicare benefits, you will pay nothing for hospice care. “The Medicare Hospice Benefit gives patients peace of mind that costs associated with care, medications and equipment related to their diagnosis will be covered. This benefit allows patients and their families the chance to enjoy precious time together rather than worry about how to pay for services,” said Rhett Austin, senior vice president of Visiting Nurse.

Medicare in the News this Election Cycle

The scope and purpose of Medicare is in the news once again this election cycle. Hillary Clinton has supported the expansion of Medicare benefits to middle-aged people as young as 55, or possibly even lower. This would presumably include hospice benefits as part of Medicare Part A, although Clinton has not specifically commented on hospice care. Donald Trump, on the other hand, has made repeated pledges that he will not change Medicare or its benefits. Changes to national health care policy could have significant ramifications for hospice care, making it important for voters to pay attention to developments in this area.

When deciding on hospice care for yourself or a loved one, you are not alone. Visiting Nurse has decades of experience helping patients and their families navigate the benefits of hospice care.

You may speak with one of our Hospice Atlanta Center staff members at 404-869-3000 who can help you understand hospice benefits from Medicare, your VA benefits or private health insurance.