Studies have shown that approximately 80% of Americans would prefer to die at home, if possible. Despite this, 60% of Americans die in acute care hospitals, 20% in nursing homes and only 20% at home. (Source: Stanford School of Medicine Palliative Care)
Dr. Gail Gazelle, assistant clinical professor at Harvard Medical School writes:
“Hospice care is underutilized… Far too often, patients end up in an ICU, rushed to the emergency room, and they end up dying there, when really they would much rather have died in their own home.”
Many people believe that high quality hospice care is too expensive so never bother to plan for it. Too often terminally ill patients don’t realize that Medicare and private insurance cover the full cost of hospice care. This means that a lot of patients don’t get hospice care until the last few days of their life.
Levels of hospice care are based upon individual needs, and what would be most comfortable for the patient.
Hospice Inpatient Care is typically for those who experience acute symptoms that cannot be managed at home. General Inpatient (GIP) care is provided in a skilled facility such as Hospice of the North Coast. You may be able to return to your home once your symptoms are under control and can then be on routine level care.
If you need to get inpatient care at a hospital, your hospice provider must make the arrangements. The cost of your inpatient hospital care is covered by your hospice benefit, but paid to your hospice provider. They have a contract with the hospital and they work out the payment between them. However, if you go to the hospital and your hospice provider didn’t make the arrangements, you might be responsible for the entire cost of your hospital care.
This level of care can be provided in the comfort of your own home, an assisted living community, or another residential setting. During this level of hospice care, you receive regular visits from members of your health care team, based upon your specific needs.
If you have your own caregivers (family and friends) and they need to take time off, respite care may be available. Under respite care, Medicare doesn’t cover room and board if you get hospice care in your home or if you live in a nursing home or a hospice inpatient facility. If the hospice team determines that you need short-term inpatient or respite care services that they arrange, Medicare will cover your stay in the facility. You may have to pay a small copayment for the respite stay.
If you will be using Medicare for your hospice needs, keep in mind that you will need to contact your hospice team before you get hospice services.
Medicare in and off itself can be a complicated topic, especially since the rules can change from one year to the next. If you have any questions, please feel free to call us us at 760-431-4100, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week