Hospice care, End of life Care, Indian River County
Hospice Health Care
“Benefit” is a key word when it comes to discussing hospice care. That’s because hospice care is a benefit under Medicare Part A. In order to receive the Medicare hospice benefit, a patient must meet certain criteria:
- The patient must be eligible for Medicare Part A.
- The patient’s physician and the hospice medical director must certify that the patient is terminally ill and has six months or less to live if the terminal illness follows its normal course.
- The patient must sign a statement electing hospice care rather than Medicare benefits intended to treat the terminal illness.
- The patient must receive care from a Medicare-approved hospice provider.
Once a patient elects hospice care, Medicare pays for the majority of the care the patient receives related to his or her terminal illness. This can include the services of doctors, nurses, aides, therapists, social workers, and bereavement professionals. Durable medical equipment, medical supplies, and drugs related to the terminal illness are also covered, though there may be a relatively small co-payment required for medications. Short term inpatient care and respite care may also be covered. (Many private insurances also cover hospice-related care.)
Hospice Healthcare Explained
A second perception we commonly hear is that hospice care is only for the last two weeks of a patient’s life. The fact of the matter is that hospice patients often live for months, sometimes even years, once they elect to receive hospice care. Occasionally, patients even benefit enough from the additional care they receive from their hospice professionals that they choose to leave hospice care and return to receiving home health services. These patients are always eligible to resume hospice care if their terminal illness worsens.
Although it is never too late to seek hospice care, patients are encouraged to call VNA Hospice early in their diagnosis. The team can offer the most help when there is sufficient time to develop a relationship with the patient, caregiver and family. In addition to patient-generated requests for services, VNA Hospice accepts referrals from patients’ physicians and other health care professionals, family members, friends, clergy, and counselors. Patients considering entering hospice care are offered a courtesy visit by VNA Hospice to help them determine if hospice is an appropriate option.
At VNA Hospice of Indian River County, we realize that decisions regarding end-of-life care are perhaps the most difficult decisions any of us must ever make. Our hospice professionals are here to help. Please call us at 772.567.5551 for answers to any of your hospice-related questions.
Perhaps some of the most common misconceptions regarding hospice care revolve around the patient’s diagnosis and the length of time that hospice care can be received. All too often, we hear people say, “I thought hospice was only for cancer patients.” Nothing could be farther from the truth. In fact, the hospice patients we serve are living with a wide variety of illnesses.Many times, patients and families will tell us that they would have availed themselves of hospice care much sooner…if only they had known more about all the benefits hospice has to offer for patients living with life limiting illnesses.