Hospice care is for patients with an advanced illness who have been given a prognosis of fewer than six months to live. Although millions of Americans receive hospice care each year, many myths and misconceptions keep people from taking advantage of the valuable support hospice provides for both the patient and their family. This post will help dispel some of those myths and hopefully lead to more people choosing to receive this vital and compassionate level of care.
Myth #1: Hospice care is not covered by insurance.
If you have Medicare/Medicaid, some or most of your hospice care services are covered. This includes nursing care as well as medication and equipment related to the life-limiting diagnosis. Many private insurance companies also cover hospice with no out-of-pocket expenses to the patient. However, medications, deductibles, and co-pays unrelated to the terminal illness are usually the patient’s responsibility.
Additional programs such as the ones MJHS Hospice provides to the patient at no extra cost, like music and art therapy, additional caregiver support, and pastoral care, are funded by the generosity of grateful families and individual donors.
Myth #2: Hospice and palliative care are the same.
Palliative care provides symptom and pain management for the patients chronic or advanced illness. Palliative care may begin at diagnosis and can be provided while the patient pursues curative treatment. In contrast, hospice services include palliative care plus emotional and spiritual support for patients and their families. Hospice services may only be provided if the patient stops seeking curative treatment for their advanced illness.
Myth #3: Hospice care means giving up.
To qualify for the hospice care benefit, U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid requires that the patient:
Many people think that choosing hospice is about giving up the will to live. When really, the goal of hospice is to increase the patient’s quality of life and provide emotional support for them and their family, ensuring that the last months, weeks, and days are as fulfilling as possible. Like it did for patients Gianna and Anthony, who were able to spend their final days together reminiscing about memories and creating Pinterest boards about their favorite foods. Read The about Gianna and Anthony.
Hospice provides supportive care as well as emotional and spiritual support specifically tailored to the patient’s needs. And, many patients, who choose to receive the care and support of hospice services when they become eligible, lived longer than initially expected.
Myth #4: Hospice is a place.
Hospice is not an actual place. It’s a form of care that can take place in a variety of settings. Hospice care is often provided in the comfort and safety of the patient’s home. Still, it can also be provided in nursing homes, assisted living facilities, hospitals, or in dedicated hospice residences.
Myth #5: Hospice speeds up the process of dying.
The goal of hospice care is to provide patients with the best quality of life possible during their final months, weeks, and days. Contrary to the common misconception, studies have shown that patients receiving care and support from a hospice program often live longer than expected.
Ultimately, hospice care is all about comfort care. MJHS aims to help our patients and their families enjoy their time together by providing end-of-life care with compassion, dignity, and respect. For more information about the care provided by MJHS Hospice, contact us today.
Photography by: MJHS Health System