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Pre-hospice care allows people to stay in their homes

Written by Diane Archer

An article in Kaiser Health News describes the value of pre-hospice care for people with a multitude of health conditions who would otherwise be spending the last years of their lives going in and out of hospital. Pre-hospice care allows people to stay home (age in place) and enjoy a better quality of life, as most would prefer to do, in the final years of their lives. At the same time, it saves our health care system billions of dollars.

Pre-hospice services, sometimes described as home-based palliative care services, are relatively new. Sharp HealthCare, a non-profit Medicare managed care plan in San Diego, offers people with multiple conditions a Transitions program, pre-hospice services provided to them at home. Through this program, social workers and nurses spend time with people in their homes and help them better care for themselves and plan for a time when they are unable to speak for themselves.

Pre-hospice services differ from hospice services in that they are not designed for people deemed to have six months or less to live. They are rather for people who still may want and need curative services and who also would benefit from care coordination and management. The Transitions program gives people access to a 24-hour nurse hotline so they can avoid calling 911 and receiving ambulance services when they are not warranted.

While pre-hospice services are now available in a number of places, the big obstacle to a large roll-out of pre-hospice services is that Medicare generally does not pay for them. Under the ACA, there are some opportunities for health plans and hospitals to innovate and receive payments for care that improves patient health and saves money, such as pre-hospice care. But, those opportunities are at risk if Congress replaces critical elements of the ACA.

Here’s more from Just Care:

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