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How Does Hospice Work?


"Someone has suggested hospice care for my father.  Does that mean that he moves into a hospice, or do people come to his home?  Who pays for hospice care?  Please tell me how this works."


This is a very good question.  Those not working in hospice do not spend time pondering the intricacies of what hospice care offers, who qualifies, or how it is paid in the same way we do.  I will provide a short explanation that will give you enough information to get you started on your journey.


is a type of health care available to individuals in their home, in hospice facilities, assisted living facilities, nursing homes, and sometimes in hospital beds.  The most popular form of hospice care in the United States is provided in a patient’s home.

Medicare is the primary payor of hospice care, as the majority of individuals who need hospice care have it.  Most commercial insurances and Medicaid also cover hospice.  When a Medicare patient goes on hospice care, they wave their standard Medicare coverage except for their primary physician visits.  Hospices cover the medications related to the terminal illness, the equipment, and the care needs of the patient while under hospice care.  It is an all-inclusive benefit for the most part.

Individuals that qualify for hospice care are people who have a projected life span of six months or less.  Your father’s physician will make that determination based on your father’s health status.  It is okay if he lives longer.  Some patients actually thrive on hospice care, and some are graduated out of hospice.

Now a bit about hospice facilities. 

Your father has the option of staying in a hospice facility.  Some look so much like houses, filled with many comforts of home, that the word “facility” may not be quite appropriate. We find that type of hospice appealing and have attempted to set ours up that way. We have designed with that approach in mind at our Lawliss and Kathy Hospices.  When staying in a hospice, your father will need to pay the daily room and board.  The hospice care is paid for by his insurance but the staying there is much like staying in a nursing home or assisted living.  The only time staying in a hospice is without charge is when a hospice patient is acutely ill. Then most insurances cover the entire day for the acute illness.