August 2015 | Wesley Hospice

Medicare and Hospice Coverage

The inclination to call hospice usually comes once you have decided you no longer want to receive aggressive treatments that may allegedly cure your terminal illness. An alternative reason may be that your doctor has determined the efforts being made are ineffective, and the best option would be to contact a hospice service provider for assistance. Most assume hospice is covered 100% by Medicare, and in many cases, this is true.

Medicare covers a plethora of services while receiving hospice care such as medications, durable medical equipment (e.g., hospital beds, wheelchairs, and air mattresses) and incontinence supplies are just to name a few; however, let us examine components the Medicare Hospice Benefit does not cover:

  • Treatment intended to cure your terminal illness and/or related conditions. Please remember that you always have the right to stop hospice care at any time.
  • Prescription drugs to cure your illness (rather than for symptom control or pain relief).
  • Care from any hospice provider not prearranged or approved by your hospice medical team.
  • Room and board. Medicare does not cover room and board while you receive hospice care. This includes, but not limited to your monthly mortgage or rent payments, nursing communities or hospice inpatient facilities. If it is determined by your hospice team that you require short-term inpatient or respite care, Medicare will cover your stay in the facility. You may, however, have to pay a small co-pay while in respite.
  • Care in an emergency room, inpatient facility care, or ambulance transportation, unless your hospice team arranged it, or it is unrelated to your illness.

Contact your hospice team before you receive any of the services listed above or you may be responsible for the entire cost. Next month, I will share what Medicare does cover and who is eligible. To learn more about hospice care at Methodist ElderCare, please contact Kenya Y. George at 614-451-6700 or e-mail her at

Hospice Care: Popular Misconceptions

It is extremely difficult to accept that fact that a parent, sibling, relative or friend is nearing the end of their life. It is natural to fear the loss of those closest to us, and this is something we are very sensitive about at Hospice Services at Methodist ElderCare. We encounter patients and their families who have mixed feelings regarding end-of-life care, and in many cases, misconceptions about what hospice essentially is or does to help families on a daily basis. Today we want to focus on common myths about hospice.

Hospice is a formal facility

The belief that hospice is a place is a common misconception of many. Hospice is a service predominately provided in the patient’s home or wherever the patient calls home. Seventy percent of people surveyed revealed that they wanted to spend the end of their lives at home. At-home hospice care is an excellent option for those who wish to stay comfortable in the presence of familiarity.

Hospice is too costly

Hospice is covered 100% by Medicare and Medicaid with little to no out-of-pocket cost to families and is a non-exhausting benefit. Many private insurance companies provide a hospice benefit; however, coverages may vary. Consult your employer or health insurance provider to see what may be covered.

Hospice will hasten the dying process

Hospice does nothing to hasten or postpone death. It is a service that provides comfort care to patients and improves quality of life. To elect hospice care is not choosing to end one’s life. According to the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization (NHPCO), patients placed on hospice live an average of 29 days longer. In some cases, patients improve and graduate from hospice. 

Hospice is a cocktail of medicine that sedates the patient

Hospice nurses and physicians are experts in the latest medications and devices for pain and symptom relief. Hospice care takes a holistic approach involving pain management, psychosocial, spiritual and emotional remedies. There are a plethora of treatments, such as music and vocal therapy and spiritual and transcendent counseling. These are just a few ways patients can make their final time on earth more peaceful.

After the patient’s death, hospice care ends

Bereavement services and grief support are available to family members up to one year after the death of a patient.

Through the understanding of facts and myths about hospice care, we hope that patients can make the best choice for their personal needs. To learn more about how hospice can help you and your family, please contact Kenya Y. George at (614) 451-6700, or email