The Law in Your Life


Hospice Care Defined

Medicare does provide certain coverage for services known as "hospice" care. Hospice care is specifically provided for terminally ill patients, and does not contemplate care for patients who are likely to recover from illnesses, regardless of severity. Hospice care generally involves the process of managing an illness and not curing an illness. The rules covering hospice care are detailed and also vary from state to state.

Generally, the following requirements must be met for coverage to exist. First, there must be a certification from a physician that the patient is expected to die in 6 months. Second, the patient must receive normal hospice services and not other kinds of services not normally supplied by a hospice. Third, the hospice facility must be certified and approved by Medicare.

Some examples of actual covered hospice services include: pain relief, nursing care, social services, drugs, physical, speech or vocational therapy, medical equipment, counseling, and physician's services related to the patient's terminal condition.

While it is contemplated that the patient has a terminal illness, there can be limits on the hospice care coverage provided by Medicare. The limits include coverage for two periods of 90 days, one period of 30 days and one additional unlimited period. There is a definite treatment and care schedule contemplated by the Code and the regulations, which is beyond the scope of this discussion. Suffice it to say that prior approval for your hospice care is recommended and consultations with Medicare regarding the limits should take place to avoid any surprises. Usually, this is a difficult time for families and there are many issues other than legal battles which are much more important.

It should be mentioned that for any persons even considering hospice care for themselves or their relatives, this site is intended to demonstrate a number of steps which can be taken early to assist a person who may be terminally ill. The drafting of Wills, Trusts, Guardianships, Durable Powers of Attorney For Healthcare and a number of other legal steps can prevent a huge number of legal obstacles, delays and most of all, expenses later. It is wise for the families of any patient to carefully review all of these topics and consult the appropriate lawyers and other professionals, especially through your legal plan, for advance planning and advice.

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