What is Hospice & Palliative Care?

Palliative care and hospice care are both supportive care

They support the best quality of life for people living with serious illness and their families

Palliative Hospice Care
  • Hospice care in the US is usually defined by what Medicare covers: team-based symptom management for people with a 6-month prognosis who have decided against, or no longer qualify, for further curative treatment.  Our hospice services are covered by all Medicare Advantage programs and most private insurers.
  • Palliative care can be provided along with with potentially curative treatments for ~12 months. Currently, only a few private insurers cover palliative care, and it is not yet covered by Medicare or Medicaid.  We have been providing palliative care services since 2008.

What does a “6-month prognosis” mean? Medicare has criteria that describe late-stage disease for many diagnoses, but determining prognosis is an inexact process. People can remain on hospice for more than 6 months if their condition warrants. On average, 15% of people are discharged from hospice because their condition improves.  Anyone on hospice can also decide to dis-enroll at any time to resume curative treatment.

Unlike all other forms of healthcare, hospice and palliative care are reimbursed by a flat daily payment (about $175/day for hospice care in the Portland area).  This means that giving extra care costs the hospice more, and is a key reason why non-profits may be willing to provide more care than for-profits.

Resource Palliative Care Hospice Care
Medical Director
Nurse (RN)
Aide (CNA)
Social Worker
Spiritual Care Counselor May be included
Volunteer Not included
Medical Equipment & Supplies Covered by insurer
Medications Covered by insurer
Timeframe 12 months+ 6 months+

For both hospice and palliative services, care is not continuous, although visits can be made at any time of the day or night.  Visit frequency is more limited under palliative care coverage.  Hospice visits are increased as needs change – a nurse, an aide and a spiritual counselor may all visit in the same day.

Home Care vs. Hospice

Hospice care and home care are often used together to supplement family caregiver time

Care Type/Cost Around-the-clock In-Home Day/Night Medical Support Meal Prep Personal Care House-Keeping & Company Spiritual Support Social Services Arts Transport
Non-Medical Home Care Cost: $25-$30/hr Available Not Available Available Available Available Not Available Available Through Outside Agencies Not Available Available
Hospice Care Cost: Covered by Medicare, Medicaid & Private Insurance Multiple visits may be provided each day by team members Nurses answer calls and make visits at any hour and a Medical Director is on call 24/7 Available by referral through outside agencies (like Meals on Wheels) Hospice Aides are Certified Nursing Assistants who are part of the medical team Volunteers can come to home for 2-4 hours/week to help with light housework and provide companionship A Spiritual Care Counselor is offered to each household A Medical Social Worker is offered to each household Certified Music and Art therapists are available Only medical transport is included

Hospice Myths & Facts

  • Several studies in people with cancer have shown that those on hospice lived longer than those receiving active treatment
  • About 15% of people on hospice are discharged due to a stabilization or improvement in their health
  • People on hospice can revoke service at any time and for any reason
  • Medications that effectively treat symptoms can continue to be provided
  • Each hospice has their own list of medications that they cover
  • Prescription medications unrelated to the hospice condition may be paid for by other insurance benefits including Medicare Part D
  • The selection of their attending physician is up to the individual; Care Partners is committed to honoring their freedom of choice

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