Does Medicare Pay for Hospice?
When a doctor tells you that a loved one needs to transfer to a hospice program, you might wonder, “how will I pay for that?” Fortunately, you may not need to worry about money. As long as your family member is eligible for Medicare, they are eligible for Medicare hospice benefits.
Which Medicare Plan Covers Hospice?
Provided the patient is eligible for Medicare, the plan’s Part A should cover most of the costs. For example, there are no deductibles for hospice care and only a $5 copay on prescription drugs for pain and symptom management for hospice.
When does the Medicare Hospice Benefit Start?
To qualify for Medicare Hospice benefits, a doctor must certify that the patient is terminally ill, meaning they have six months or less to live. This certification also means that attempts have stopped to cure the disease, and the patient is ready for palliative care (comfort care).
How Long Will Medicare Cover Hospice
Most people who use their hospice benefits wait until the very end. But, unfortunately, 50% of patients die within 30 days. If people began hospice sooner, they would have a better quality of life for their last days. End-of-life care is designed for those with a life expectancy of six months or less. However, you may continue to get the Hospice care and Medicare Hospice Benefits if you exceed the six months by getting re-certified by the medical director or doctor that you are still terminally ill.
What Does Medicare Hospice Cover?
Once a terminal diagnosis is established, Medicare Part A benefits include the following:
- Pain management, including prescription drugs or medical equipment
- Doctor and nursing care
- Durable medical equipment for pain relief and symptom management (e.g., wheelchairs, walkers)
- Aide and homemaker services
- Short-term respite care
- Social worker services
- Spiritual and grief counseling for you and your family
- Short-term inpatient care for pain and symptom management
- Other Medicare-covered hospice care services recommended by the hospice team
I’ve made this infographic to make things perfectly clear! If you would like a copy go to the downloads page.
Respite Care from Bluebird Health
As mentioned above, short-term respite care is covered by Medicare. Bluebird Health’s Home Care services provide certified nursing assistants, patient safety attendants, RNs, and a myriad of other medical professionals who can provide respite care in your home. In addition, Home Health options offer skilled nursing services for those who need a higher level of care. Whatever your need, Bluebird Health is ready to assist.
Inpatient respite care is also covered for up to 5 days each occurrence at a qualified hospice facility “so that your usual caregiver (like a family member or friend) can rest.” For example, your caregiver may use the opportunity to go out-of-town by using an approved facility. Caring for a terminally ill loved one is difficult. Using this respite time can help relieve stress.
Bluebird Hospice services are provided where the patient currently resides, whether in a hospital, nursing home, or private home. Bluebird Hospice will come to you. So many people want home hospice, and this is one great thing Bluebird takes pride in offering.
Bluebird Health’s hospice program has unique programs unlike any other in the state. We offer alternative therapies, including acupuncture, aromatherapy, massage therapy, music therapy, and pet therapy. Each of these palliative solutions is scientifically proven to benefit patients in relieving pain, anxiety and rendering comfort. These programs are just some of the ways we look for opportunities to provide individualized hospice programs and palliative care treatments for our patients.
Changes to Medicare Benefits 2022
COVID-19 Items and Services
Medicare recognizes that the population it serves is especially at risk from a severe illness from COVID-19. Therefore, the following items and services are covered in Original Medicare:
- COVID vaccines – no copay, no deductible (bring Medicare card)
- COVID test – You pay no out-of-pocket costs. Tests should be performed at a lab, pharmacy, doctor, or hospital, and be ordered by a doctor or other authorized health care professional. You can also get up to one lab-performed test a year without an order, at no cost to you.
- FDA-authorized COVID-19 antibody (or “serology”) tests if you were diagnosed with a known current or known prior COVID-19 infection or suspected current or suspected past COVID-19 infection.
- Monoclonal antibody treatments – this treatment is used to help fight the disease, in people with a high risk of progressing to a severe case of COVID-19 and/or at high risk of requiring hospitalization. You pay nothing if this is prescribed to you.
When the public health emergency ends (if it ever does) coverage could change. For more information on this visit the medicare-coronavirus site page.
Cognitive Assessment & Care Plan
Medicare Part B (Medical Insurance) now covers a separate visit with your regular doctor or a specialist to do a full review of your cognitive function, establish or confirm a diagnosis like dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease, and establish a care plan. This is important because there are treatments for these early signs of cognitive impairment. Medications, occupational therapy, and exercise therapy have all proven to be helpful. The care plan you decide on with your doctor will be your first step in toward maintaining better brain health.
Signs of cognitive impairment include trouble remembering, learning new things, concentrating, managing finances, or making decisions about your everyday life.
Conditions like depression, anxiety, and delirium can also cause confusion, so it’s important to understand why you may be having symptoms. If you can, it’s best to bring a spouse, family member, or friend, with you to the appointment. They can help provide information to the doctor and answer questions.
Blood-based Biomarker Test
You may get a blood-based biomarker test every three years to screen for colorectal cancer if you meet all of these conditions:
- You show no symptoms of colorectal disease
- You have no personal history of polyps, cancer, or ulcerative colitis
- You have no family history of colorectal cancers
You pay no out-of-pocket costs. Click the link above for more information.
If you enjoyed this article, check back often for more information on Senior Health, Caregiver strategies, and Upcoming Events. Bluebird Health offers personalized programs in Home Health, Home Care Services, and Hospice. You can also find us on Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram.