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Medicare and Palliative care

Chronic illnesses such as cancer or stroke often require long-term treatment. If you are diagnosed with a serious illness, you must be concerned about the bills for medications, doctors, and hospital visits piling up quickly.

For most families, these expenses can create a huge burden on their financial condition.

The costs of the treatment often include alternative therapies and palliative care recommend to ease the symptoms and support recovery.

That is why it would be prudent to check whether Medicare covers palliative care so that some of the expenses related to the treatment are taken care of. Here is a brief discussion about whether Medicare covers palliative care and the various rules related to the same.

nurse with sick patient

Does Medicare help with palliative care?

Palliative care is covered by Medicare Advantage plans included in Part C when it is considered medically necessary. For example, palliative care focused on pain relief could be considered necessary for improving the quality of life of the patient in some cases.

Most Medicare Advantage plans offer coverage for home health care services and items including home meal delivery and bathroom grab bars that are not covered by Medicare Part A and B. These services are viewed as essential for providing palliative care in some cases.

However, palliative care should not be confused with Hospice care. Hospice care refers to the end-of-life support for the terminally ill patients who have opted to stop receiving any curative treatment for their disease.

Though the term “Hospice care” is often used interchangeably with palliative care, Medicare beneficiaries are eligible for hospice services only when the doctor has certified the patient would be able to survive for not more than six months.

Palliative care, on the other hand, is recommended to alleviate pain to make patients comfortable. It may include the other end-of-life care delivered by a team of physicians and other healthcare professionals.

The costs of Palliative care may also include social work services, medical equipment and supplies, loss or grief counseling for the family, and spiritual support.

It is clear that the nature of palliative care is such that not all services included in it strictly fall under medical care by a healthcare professional. Hence, original Medicare Part A and Part B and Medicare Advantage plan Part C may cover only some forms of palliative care when the doctor has recommended it as medically necessary.

Palliative care can help you avoid excessive costs involved in the management of several diseases as it usually does not require a hospital stay.

Medicare coverage for palliative care may be beneficial for patients with cancer, renal failure, chronic lung diseases, Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), Alzheimer’s disease, and HIV/AIDS.

Receiving palliative care at home can help you avoid expensive healthcare services such as emergency room visits.

The team approach to healthcare offered by palliative medicine would not just help you control your life but also allow you to save expenses on mainstream treatment methods.

You can also opt for Medicare Advantage plans to receive a few additional benefits that may or may not be covered by your original Medicare.

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