What is the difference between Hospice and Home Health Care Services?

Home Health Care is a physician ordered service designed to support teaching symptom and medicine management, mobility and home safety issues.  Hospice provides care to those with a life limiting illness that have a life expectancy of six months or less. Hospice care is comprehensive in nature and provided by an interdisciplinary team consisting of physicians, nurses, home health aides, social workers, chaplains and volunteers. Extensive support is provided to the patient and their loved ones.


When should one enter a hospice program and how do I go about making the hospice decision?

It is appropriate to discuss all of a patient’s care options, including hospice, at any time during a life-limiting illness. The decision belongs to the patient regarding hospice services and they should visit with their family and their physician to decide about hospice services.


What if a person with a life limiting illness goes on Hospice services and lives longer than six months?

The Medicare Hospice Benefit requires a physician to certify a prognosis of six months or less if the nature of the illness takes its natural course. This doesn’t mean a patient will be discharged from hospice services if they live longer then six months. All that is necessary is for a physician to certify that the terminal disease is still present.


Who pays for Hospice Services?

Hospice is benefit covered by Medicare nationwide and most private insurance providers. For the Hospice patient, Medicare covers all services and supplies related to the terminal illness.


Can a person’s personal physician remain as their primary doctor while on hospice services?

Certainly. People need not worry about giving up their primary care physician, that doctor works with the hospice physician to maximize care and comfort for the patient.


Can a hospice patient stop hospice services at anytime?

Of course. If the patient’s condition improves and the disease seems to be in remission, individuals can be discharged from services and go on about their daily life. One can also stop hospice services to seek aggressive therapy or treatment for their illness. If the discharged patient should later need to return to hospice care, Medicare will allow additional coverage for this purpose.


Does Hospice assist in making death come sooner?

No. Hospice neither hastens or postpones death. Hospice provides support and expertise during the dying process.


How does Hospice provide comfort and control pain?

Hospice tends to the physical, emotional and spiritual pain associated with the dying process. Hospice physicians and nurses are up to date on the latest medications and treatments for pain and symptom relief. The goal of hospice is to have the patient as pain free and alert as possible.


Where can one get Hospice and or Home Health services?

Hospice services can be provided in one’s personal home, nursing home, assisted living center and/or hospital settings. Home Health services are provided in one’s personal home or assisted living center, home health services can not be received in nursing homes or hospitals.


Who pays for Home Health Services?

Home Health is covered by Medicare, Medicaid and most private insurance providers as long as a person meets certain requirements. There are limits on the number of hours and days of care one can receive home health services. All services and coverages will be explained by the home health company.




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