What is the Difference Between Home Health & Hospice Care?
VITAS is the leading provider of hospice care services — end-of-life care brought to each patient wherever they call home. We often get asked how hospice services compare to home health.
What's the Difference?
Hospice care is comfort care for patients with a prognosis of six months or less if their disease runs its natural course, as certified by a physician.
Home health care provides services that are brought to patients who require intermittent skilled nursing care, physical therapy, speech-language pathology services or continued occupational services, as prescribed by their doctor. The patient's progress must be documented.
If the patient is eligible to receive Medicare benefits and you're unsure about the kind of care they need, learn more about the differences between hospice services and home healthcare below.
- Who provides care? Each type of care has a team to suit the patient's needs and diagnosis.
- How long is care provided? The length varies by type of care and the patient's needs.
- How often must patients be recertified to continue services? It ranges from 60 days to six months.
- Do you have to be homebound to receive care? Hospice patients do not have to be homebound. It's different for home healthcare patients.
- Is care available around the clock? Hospice can provide up to 24 hours/day of skilled nursing and hospice aide services for certain patients.
- What if the patient's symptoms can't be controlled at home? Hospice care can be provided in an inpatient setting for short stays.
- Can care be provided in long-term care facilities? Home health care cannot be given to patients in a long-term care facility.
- Are prescription medications covered by Medicare? With hospice, the Medicare hospice benefit covers all prescription and over-the-counter drugs related to the patient's terminal diagnosis.
- Does Medicare pay for home medical equipment and supplies? Supplies are covered under Medicare in varying amounts depending on type of care.
- Does Medicare pay for “personal care” of the patient? For home health patients, medicare doesn't cover personal care services.
- Can you receive home health and hospice at the same time? Medicare patients can receive both if they've met the home health criteria.