November is National Hospice and Palliative Care Month. This month serves as a reminder of the importance of hospice care for people throughout the U.S. For many of these people, hospice care costs are a big concern. This brief article will help you understand those costs and how to cover them.

Basics of Hospice Care and Hospice Costs

Hospice care is also known as end-of-life care. This care aims to provide compassionate support for the quality of life of:

  • Anyone affected by an advanced, terminal illness
  • People who act as caregivers for others with these kinds of illnesses

The main goal of hospice is to make your life as comfortable and enriching as possible during this trying time. It does not try to postpone death or hasten its arrival. Instead, it focuses on easing your symptoms and providing you with a dignified end of life.

Hospice may also include something called respite care. This service allows caregivers to take a brief break from their responsibilities. In this way, it helps caregivers cope with the inevitable strain of those responsibilities.

End-of-life care is not only a compassionate option for you and your loved one. It is also low-cost in the large majority of cases. However, your actual costs depend on your needs and source of hospice care coverage.

Medicare, Medicaid, and Hospice Care Costs

Most people meet some or all of their hospice care costs through Medicare Part A. There are several eligibility rules for this coverage. If you meet Medicare’s rules, you’re covered for things such as:

  • The treatment needed to manage symptoms and relieve pain
  • Any durable medical equipment used for that treatment
  • Required nursing, medical and social services

Hospice coverage is also offered through Medicaid programs. However, each state sets its own coverage rules. This means that your costs depend, in part, on your state of residence.

Private Insurance and Hospice Care Costs

If you don’t qualify through Medicare or Medicaid, you may get help through private insurance. Some insurance companies provide end of life coverage. However, others do not. Check with your provider to see if your plan covers hospice care. If it does, it will typically have the same qualifying rules as Medicare. In most cases, private insurance gives you access to more hospice resources than Medicare or Medicaid.

Paying the Cost of Hospice Room and Board

One potentially significant expense of hospice is room and board for inpatient care. Private coverage typically helps you pay the cost of this expense. However, Medicare does not consider room and board to be a core hospice service.

Despite this fact, you may still be able to get financial help. Medicare makes allowances for short-term room and board approved by your hospice team. You may be approved for this short-term benefit if you have symptoms that cannot be managed at home. You may also be approved if your caregiver needs to take a break.