Medicare is a federal insurance program that caters to people over the age of 65, helping them cover a vast array of medical services. The program’s hospital insurance component, Medicare Part A, not only covers inpatient hospital stays, but also skilled nursing and nursing home care, home health services, and hospice care.
“The beautiful thing about Medicare is that most people over the age of 65 are eligible,” said Barbara Matamoros, director of sales and marketing at Faith Presbyterian Hospice. “If you or a loved one is terminally ill, it’s an important resource in obtaining the holistic care needed. Alleviating the potential high cost of end-of-life care is very valuable.”
In fact, Medicare Part A is usually premium-free, as long as recipients paid Medicare taxes for at least a decade during their working years. When patients elect to receive hospice care, Medicare Part A reimburses hospice care providers for most of their services, including:
• Doctor services
• Nursing care
• Medical equipment (like wheelchairs and walkers)
• Medical supplies (like bandages and catheters)
• Prescription drugs for symptom control or pain relief
• Hospice aide and homemaker services
• Physical and occupational therapy
• Speech-language pathology services
• Social work services
• Dietary counseling
• Grief and loss counseling for patients and their families
• Short-term inpatient care (for pain and symptom management)
• Short-term respite care
• Any other Medicare-covered services needed to manage pain and other symptoms related to terminal illness and related conditions, as recommended by hospice care providers
“Unfortunately, the American medical landscape has a reputation of being costly,” explained Matamoros. “Patients and their families are often surprised by how affordable hospice care is. We think it’s important to educate the public about all their care options, especially their well-earned Medicare benefit and how it applies to hospice.”
What about Medicaid?
Patients also have the option to pursue hospice care via Medicaid, a health care program administered by individual states in accordance with federal requirements. Medicaid is expansive and is open to eligible low-income adults, children, older adults and people with disabilities.
“For those who either don’t qualify for Medicare or simply just want to explore other options, Medicaid is certainly a good place to start looking,” said Matamoros. “At Faith Presbyterian Hospice, we understand how complex this process can be and, if possible, we’re happy to offer recommendations or assistance to families who are trying to find the right plan.”
Since hospice benefits under Medicaid vary in each state, contacting your local State Medicaid Agency (SMA) is strongly recommended. For information on the Texas Medicaid & Healthcare Partnership, visit https://hhs.texas.gov/services/questions-about-your-benefits.
Private Insurance and More
Hospice benefits under private insurance and other care plans also vary depending on plan specifics. Many plans offer hospice care coverage, so contacting your insurance provider to learn more about the scope of your policy is highly recommended.