Hospice Myths & Truths
Myth: Hospice is a place.
Truth: Hospice care is given in the comfort of the patient’s home. Care is also provided in any environment in which a person lives including a nursing home, assisted living facility, or residential care facility. Hospice is not a place but a type of care.
Myth: Hospice will only help when family members are available and willing to provide care.
Truth: Many terminally ill individuals live alone. Many also have family that is unable to provide care. Hospice care coordinates with the patient/family in regards to community resources to make home care possible or will find alternate locations where a patient can safely receive care.
Myth: Hospice care is expensive.
Truth: Hospice care is covered through Medicare, Medicaid, and most private insurance plans. Medicare reimburses 100% of hospice care costs ensuring that financial burden is not passed to the family. This is in sharp contrast to large expenses that can be accrued at the end of life when hospice is not utilized. A recent study showed that hospice saves money for Medicare while improving quality of life for hospice recipients. Some hospices assist with the cost of caring for a terminally ill person if he or she is uninsured.
Myth: Hospice care is intrusive.
Truth: While there are many members of the hospice team to address different aspects of care, the care of hospice is not intended to be intrusive. With the patient at the center of the care, the hospice team coordinates the frequency of visits to honor the wishes of the patient and family.
Myth: Once hospice is elected a patient cannot return to traditional curative treatment.
Truth: A hospice patient can revoke services at any time without penalty to their insurance. However, curative treatment and hospice services cannot occur simultaneously.
Myth: Hospice care is available only for a limited time.
Truth: Hospice care continues as long as a person is terminally ill. Medicare utilizes certification periods to encourage frequent assessment of terminal illness. However, there is no cap to these certification periods.
Myth: Hospice should be contacted when death is imminent.
Truth: Patients and families benefit most when the patient is referred as soon as possible after a terminal diagnosis. Research shows that patients who enter hospice earlier on in their illness actually benefit more and can live longer. Hospice teams specialize in treating distressing symptoms and pain management. The earlier an individual receives hospice care, the greater the opportunity there is to stabilize a patient’s medical condition and address other needs