You are eligible for hospice care if you are likely to have 6 months to live or less (some insurers or state Medicaid agencies cover hospice for a full year). Unfortunately, most people don't get palliative care until the last few weeks or even days of life, and months of useful care and quality time may be lost. If patients recover, Medicare expects them to leave the palliative care program. Patients can stay in a federally funded hospice program for more than 6 months, but only if they are re-certified as likely to die within 6 months.
What happens if a person receiving palliative care lives longer than six months? If the doctor continues to certify that the person is about to die, Medicare can continue to pay for hospice services. It is also possible to leave hospice care for a while and then return if the healthcare provider still believes the patient has less than six months to live. You may wonder how much longer a loved one will live once the doctor recommends hospice care. A big mistake is that hospice care is only used when a person is entering their last days of life.
While some patients may wait until the end is very near to ask for hospice help, this type of care is adequate to help patients for several months or even longer. In fact, the longer a loved one stays in hospice, the better their chances of enjoying the time they have left. In some cases, palliative care patients may live longer because their quality of life has improved. Hospice programs are great for older people in advanced stages of non-curable, very fragile or extremely elderly illnesses.
For example, a person with advanced dementia might qualify. Many people mistakenly believe that in order to receive hospice care, the patient should be expected to live less than six months. But there is no rule determined by life expectancy. This misconception can be traced back to Medicare, which provides assistance in the form of benefit periods.
Each initial benefit period lasts 90 days, and Medicare estimates that people in hospice usually only need two periods. Throughout the country, hospices with generous admission policies may also encounter life support. Keep in mind that if the patient chooses not to receive hospice care, that means revoking any assistance received from the Medicare hospice benefit, such as home visits, home medical equipment and supplies, and holistic or therapeutic services. To begin palliative care, a person's healthcare provider may refer them to a palliative care specialist.
We explain why the use of hospice services should not be considered as an acceleration of death or a death sentence to someone. In addition, if you survive the six-month Medicare estimate, you can quit hospice care and return when you need it. Hospice care brings together a team of people with special abilities, including nurses, doctors, social workers, spiritual counselors, and trained volunteers. Choosing to receive hospice services may seem like the end, but patients and families need to remember that hospice is patient-centered care.
In general, private insurance, as well as Medicare and Medicaid, stipulate that two doctors must state that they believe that a patient is unlikely to live longer than six months to be eligible for hospice. Starting hospice early can provide months of meaningful care and quality time with loved ones. Complicating matters further, the evolution of hospice care has made it more difficult to estimate how much longer hospice patients have to live. According to Consumer Reports, if you have insurance such as Medicare, Medicaid, or private insurance, and if two doctors consider it unlikely that you will live longer than six months, you are eligible for hospice coverage.
But there needs to be good coordination and communication between the nursing home, the hospice company and the family. .