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Medicare and Hospice Care

Hospice care is meant for people who are expected to die within a specific period of time. You can be eligible for hospice if your life expectancy is lower than six months, although if you’re terminally ill, you may receive it despite having to live longer than that.

However, the costs can be too much to handle for the ill one or his/her family members, and this is where you start wondering if Medicare may cover the costs of the service. Here’s what a Medicare plan offers when it comes to hospice care.

hospice nurse

Can Medicare Cover Hospice?

Luckily, Medicare can pay for hospice under certain criteria. For example, you must use a Medicare-approved hospice program and have a Medicare Part A plan. Your doctor must know that you or your loved one only has six months or less to live or has a terminal illness and will die after a few months.

You can also get coverage with a Medicare Advantage plan if you need treatment for something unrelated to the illness or conditions.

What Will Medicare Cover During Hospice?

When someone needs hospice, it is to ensure they live under the best conditions possible until their time comes. Therefore, they will need certain services and medical care to make sure they’re happy and comfortable in the meantime.

This may include specific medication or drugs to relieve possible pains, but also medical equipment used during the process. Not to mention that social services and nursing, as well as counseling for potential grief,  might be necessary too.

However, not all of these things are covered by Medicare. While drugs for pain relief may be covered, grief and spiritual counseling are not typically included in the coverage. Keep in mind that hospice care could either be offered in a hospital, nursing home or at the house of the beneficiary.

Medicare may also cover respite care. This is pretty much a short-term stay at a hospice facility, where the ill patient has the chance to rest for a few days. A Medicare plan will also cover the nurses and physicians providing treatment and care for the patient, as well as services such as helping with bathing and other necessities.

You need to keep in mind, though, that coverage for anything meant to cure a terminal illness will not be provided. If you want to undergo radiation therapy to cure your condition, you will have to pay out of your pocket. Coverage will only be provided as long as radiation therapy is meant to shrink a tumor.

Whereas you receive coverage for most things related to offering you a comfortable, pain-free life until the terminal illness takes over, you will still have a copay. $5 may be required for medications, and 5% for coinsurance.


For any questions or curiosities about your Medicare and the benefits surrounding hospice, contact your Medicare provider. He’s the most qualified to tell you what you or your loved one will receive coverage for.

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