Medicare Your Coverage Options

Three things to consider about end-of-life care

Written by Diane Archer
If you’re caring for someone at the end of life–with a life expectancy of no longer than six months–Medicare covers either curative care or palliative end-of-life care. You will need to understand your loved one’s preferences. Palliative care manages your pain and provides social and emotional supports; and, coverage is through the Medicare hospice benefit; you must forego Medicare coverage for medical interventions that attempt to cure you.  However, you can end your hospice coverage at any time and receive Medicare coverage for curative care to treat your condition. Here are three things to consider:
  1. Would the person you are caring for prefer care to ease pain?  If so, Medicare will cover nursing and therapy care, as well as home health aides, medical social services, durable medical equipment and drugs, through a Medicare-certified hospice agency.  There is only a small copay. This care is usually provided at home, but sometimes is available through a facility.
  2. Is care available to the person when the hospice team is not on site? The Medicare hospice benefit covers only a few hours a day of care.  As a general rule, the hospice agency will only accept patients who have someone to care for them when they are not on site.
  3. How do you find a Medicare-certified hospice agency?  Your local hospital should have a list of agencies in your community.  Ask the patient’s doctor to reach out to the hospice on behalf of the patient.

The hospice benefit also includes some benefits for family caregivers, including respite care and bereavement services.  Respite care will allow a family caregiver to take a break from caring for a loved one who is terminally ill.  And, after a loved one passes, a hospice may cover grief and loss counseling for family caregivers, support groups and memorial services. Counseling coverage for the family member can last up to a year after a loved one’s death.

For more information, visit Medicare Interactive.



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