The Medicare Hospice Benefit
Many people are unaware of the Medicare Hospice Benefit (MHB). The entire cost of services and expenses provided by the benefit are covered 100% by Medicare. The MHB may be chosen when a patient, 65 or older, with a terminal illness is given a prognosis by their Primary Care Physician (PCP) that should the illness takes it normal course, the patient will pass in approximately 6 months or less. The advantages provided with the Medicare Hospice Benefit are comfort care and improved pain management in the patient’s residence, with regular visits from hospice team members for nursing, bathing assistance, and visits from a chaplain or social worker if desired. The benefit can include physical therapy, occupational therapy, and speech therapy for those who can utilize those.
Patients can be more relaxed, and spend more time with family or other visitors of their choice. With hospice care, medications can be more closely managed, so that combinations of medications do not keep a patient sedated. Patients can have a normal day, with a normal wake and sleep cycle.
The hospice Medical Director and the hospice Director of Skilled Nursing, an experienced RN, coordinate with an interdisciplinary team of qualified professionals to review the patient’s illnesses and prognosis on a regular basis, to determine any necessary changes in prescriptions. The hospice has a licensed RN on call 24 hours a day to answer questions. The Chaplain can assist a patient and family with religious questions, prayer, or discussion as the patient or family desire. The social worker can help with family dynamics or funeral preparations.
Deciding to choose hospice care is a decision to forego further curative care. If a patient has cancer, they are choosing to stop chemotherapy. Difficult to tolerate curative medications will be no longer be necessary. Choosing the benefit is a personal choice made with family, by family, that the person is no longer curable, and no longer wishes to struggle with their health. Patients may live beyond 6 months, or may pass within a few days if the hospice choice is made very late for them. There is no set duration, no timetable. Many times, but not always, a patient’s final decline follows a definite pattern, and can be estimated within a few days. Other patients show a slower decline. Some patients will rally and regain energy for a few days, or weeks. Hospice provides comfort for the patient and family in this life transition.
Costs for the benefit are covered 100% by Medicare, and administered by the hospice agency. Benefits may include professional visits, medications, medical equipment, and nutritional supplements, all as needed.
Additional information about the Medicare Hospice Benefit is available from the Medicare website, or at http://www.absolutehospice.com .
• Skilled Nursing Care
• Personal Care Services
• Medical Social Services
• Spiritual Care
• PT, OT, Speech Therapy
• Counseling Services
KEYWORDS: Skilled Nursing Services, Wound Care, Nurse, Registered Nurse, Occupational Therapist, Physical Therapist, Skilled Medical Professional