Who Pays for Hospice?

Get the Guide: The Medicare Hospice Benefit

There is no reason to defer hospice care due to financial concerns. The Medicare Hospice Benefit is an inclusive benefit, in which all services that are related to the terminal illness are covered up to 100 percent by Medicare Part A. Care that is unrelated to the terminal illness continues to be covered by Medicare Parts A and B, with all normal rules applicable (e.g., co-payments, coverage guidelines and deductibles).

Coverage includes everything involved in hospice care, from visits by a nurse, physician and other healthcare professionals to therapy, medication and supplies.

A pie chart showing who pays for hospice

How Do You Pay for Hospice Care?

For those not eligible for Medicare or Medicaid, payment for hospice can come from private insurance or an HMO, since these also include a hospice benefit.

Hospices employ financial specialists to help families who do not qualify for federal assistance and do not have insurance find available resources. The payment options for these families include self-pay and charitable organizations.

Facing a terminal illness brings with it many concerns. Paying for end-of-life care shouldn’t be one of them.

Who Pays for Hospice Care at Home?

The Medicare Hospice Benefit covers end-of-life services related to a patient’s terminal diagnosis in whatever setting the patient calls home, whether that’s a traditional residence, an assisted living facility, or nursing home. Wherever hospice occurs, all services related to the terminal diagnosis are covered up to 100% by Medicare Part A.

If the patient’s symptoms cannot be managed by the routine level of hospice care, additional levels of service, such as 24/7 continuous care or inpatient hospice care, will also be financed through Medicare Part A at no additional expense to the patient or family.

Does Medicare Pay for Hospice in a Skilled Nursing Facility?

Yes, hospice services provided in a nursing facility are covered by Medicare. In a nursing home setting, hospice helps patients, families, and nursing home staff by providing end-of-life resources and support. The Medicare Hospice Benefit covers services, medications, supplies and equipment that are related to life-limiting illness. It does not, however, cover expenses associated with room and board. These skilled nursing facility room-and-board expenses are often covered by Medicaid when the patient meets the state’s financial eligibility requirements.

The Medicare and Medicaid Hospice benefit also includes a provision for respite care and inpatient care, which can also be provided in a nursing facility for short stays.  When the need for respite or inpatient hospice care is identified by the hospice team, the total costs associated with the care are covered under the hospice benefit.

The Medicare Hospice Benefit

The Medicare Hospice Benefit provides coverage for the following services:

Source: NHPCO's Facts and Figures: Hospice Care in America

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