The Medicare hospice benefit, initiated in 1983, is covered under Medicare Part A (hospital insurance). Medicare beneficiaries who choose hospice care receive a full scope of medical and support services for their life-limiting illness. Hospice care also supports the family and loved ones of the person through a variety of services.
More than 90% of hospices in the United States are certified by Medicare. Eighty percent of people who use hospice care are over the age of 65, and are thus entitled to the services offered by the Medicare hospice benefit. This benefit covers virtually all aspects of hospice care with little out-of-pocket expense to the person or family. In addition, most private health plans and Medicaid in 47 States and the District of Columbia cover hospice services.
Sometimes a person’s health improves or their illness goes into remission. If that happens, your doctor may feel that you no longer need hospice care. Also, you always have the right to discontinue hospice care, for any reason. If you stop your hospice care, you will receive the type of Medicare coverage that you had before electing hospice. If you are eligible, you can go back to hospice care at any time.
You are eligible for Medicare hospice benefits when you meet all of the following conditions:
*Medicare will still pay for covered benefits for any health needs that aren’t related to your life-limiting illness.
Medicare defines a set of hospice core services, which means that hospices are required to provide these set of services to each person they serve, regardless of the person’s insurance. Medicare covers these hospice services and pays nearly all of their costs: