Sunday, November 09, 2008

Capital Hospice in Virginia explains how hospice care in Medicare works

Today (Sunday November 9) Capital Hospice in Arlington Virginia made a brief presentation of hospice services at Trinity Presbyterian Church in Arlington.

There are a lot of myths about Medicare and hospice care, and Capital Hospice has a valuable web reference, listing the four misconceptions, here.

Generally hospice services become Medicare entitled when the (Part A covered) patient is certified by a physician as having less than six months to live. The entitlement does not end if the patient lives more than those six months.

However, most hospice care is administered out-of-house, in nursing homes or at home. In such cases, the hospice services can be covered by Medicare. However room and board are still the patient’s responsibility (since custodial care is not covered by Medicare) in most cases, although sometimes that is covered by Medicaid. In many cases the patients own family members are still having to cover the cost.

In cases where inpatient hospice care can be justified, the inpatient room and board is covered by Medicare (when the six month rule is met), but the patient may be “discharged” from inpatient care when an acute medical crisis has been resolved. Hospice beds are usually very limited.

Some states, like New York, allow only one hospice provider per county; others, like Virginia, encourage competition.

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