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Questions & Answers

What is hospice?
Hospice is a specialized type of care for patients, families, and their caregivers when life expectancy can be measured in months rather than years. It offers care toward an important goal: maintaining and improving quality of life. Hospice care also offers support for caregivers.

When and how is a decision made about hospice?
It is appropriate at any time to discuss all care options, including advance care planning and hospice. You and your family may choose to discuss goals and options with your physician, other healthcare professionals, clergy, and/or friends.

Who pays for hospice care?
Medicare, Medicaid, and most private insurers cover all hospice services including durable medical equipment and illness-related medications. Some non-profit hospice providers are able to provide services for those patients who have no insurance.

Does hospice shorten the patient’s life?
Hospice does not affect life span by hastening death or prolonging life. Hospice care focuses on comfort and quality of life to help the patient make the most of every moment he or she has left.

How long can someone be on hospice?
Patients can remain on hospice as long as deemed both medically appropriate by their physician and of continued benefit by the recipients of the service. Patients sometimes experience improved health and do not need to continue hospice support. If their condition deteriorates later, they can be readmitted.

What conditions qualify for hospice care?
Hospice and palliative care services are for patients with a wide-range of life-limiting illnesses such as cancer, heart disease, dementia, lung disease, neurological disorders, HIV/AIDS, and many other diagnoses.

Where is hospice care provided?
Hospice care can be provided wherever one calls home. This may be a personal residence or an assisted living or skilled nursing facility. Some hospice providers also operate inpatient units where round-the-clock care can be provided for patients whose symptoms cannot be managed at home. 

Can patients keep their personal physicians?
Yes. Hospice providers work with a patient’s primary care physician to provide the best quality of care in line with the patient’s desires.

Does a physician have to order hospice?
Hospice care cannot be delivered without a physician’s order. However, patients and their caregivers can self-refer for an evaluation at no charge. If hospice professionals determine that the patient is eligible for services, the provider contacts the patient’s physician to obtain the order and initiate a plan of care.