Who Pays for Palliative Care at the End of Life?

woman comforted in hospice care

When people start enquiring about end-of-life hospice care, several questions come to mind.

Questions like:

What is palliative care treatment? 

What does treatment entail? 

Who is suitable to receive hospice care? 

And who pays for pain medication, equipment, supplies and nurses for end-of-life care?

This article will educate you on who pays for hospice care. But even more so, it will provide answers to commonly asked questions about palliative and hospice care.

What is Palliative Care?

Palliative care is a healthcare specialty treatment that manages the pain, symptoms and side-effects of chronic illness. Palliative care can be administered for patients of any age, regardless of the stage of their disease. It is important to understand what palliative care is not–and how it differs from hospice care. Patients can receive palliative care while still pursuing treatment or cure for a chronic illness, while palliative care for hospice focuses on making the patient as comfortable and pain free as possible during their end-of-life transition.

Palliative care operates in such a way that palliative experts work with patients to manage pain, symptoms, and side effects that may cause discomfort or distress. While a palliative patient’s doctor may focus solely on treatment, palliative care for hospice is meant to provide comfort and relief from pain without treating a disease, so the patient can experience an improved quality of life. 

What Does Palliative Care Treatment Include?

Palliative care entails prescription of medications and recommendations of therapies and resources to help a patient. This way, patients get everything they need to deal with a chronic or life-limiting illness. The palliative care team typically consists of a palliative care physician, nurse practitioner and health care social worker.

Is Hospice And Palliative Care The Same Thing?

While palliative and hospice are both forms of support for patients who need end-of-life care, they are different. Patients can also receive palliative care at the same time they are receiving treatment to cure an illness.

Hospice care, on the other hand, focuses on a patient’s last months of life. When a person receives a diagnosis of a terminal illness, and the doctor does not believe they will survive for more than 6 months, they consider the option of hospice care.

This means hospice provides the best possible quality of life for someone in their final moments of life.

Another common difference is that patients in hospice care can receive palliative care (pain and symptom management) that is covered by Medicare or Medicaid.

Lastly, hospice care offers significantly more services than palliative. These services are usually at no additional cost to either the patients or their families.

What Kind of Symptoms Is Palliative Care Appropriate for?

This is one of the most commonly asked questions about palliative care. Palliative care is appropriate for any illness that causes long-term pain and discomfort. Palliative care can also include a chronic condition that causes periodic symptoms.

Examples of common illnesses for which people seek palliative treatment include:

  • Cancer
  • Heart Disease/CHF
  • Respiratory Disease/COPD
  • Renal Disease/Failure
  • HIV/AIDS
  • Chronic Liver Disease
  • Multiple Sclerosis (MS)
  • Alzheimer’s Disease
  • Stroke (CVA)
  • Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) 

Palliative Care Solutions

Palliative care solutions can be used in addition to other primary treatments. It can also serve as an option for patients who are eligible for hospice but are not yet emotionally ready to stop curative treatments in favor of end-of-life care.

Typical palliative care solutions include:

  • Pain management
  • Symptoms management
  • Help in navigating treatment options
  • Advanced care planning
  • Comfort measures that assist quality of life
  • Physician referrals to community resources that offer hospice and palliative 
man dying in hospice care

 

Who Provides Palliative Care?

 

An interdisciplinary team of trained personnel provides palliative care including doctors, nurses, social workers, chaplains, dietitians, and other health care specialists. They work together to manage a patient’s situation and help them understand the options available to them.

 

Will Insurance Cover my Palliative Care?

 

Medicare typically pays for all bills related to palliative care. Whether it’s a bill for inpatient care or skilled nursing care received by a patient from palliative care professionals, Medicare pays for it.

Common care associated with palliative care includes;

  • Doctor’s visits for diagnosis and treatment of the illness and other related conditions.
  • Durable medical equipment, such as walkers and wheelchairs.
  • Mental health counseling and emotional support for patients and their families.
  • Outpatient rehabilitation therapy, such as speech, occupational or physical, therapy.
  • Prescription drugs that may include those that help with anxiety, fatigue, pain relief, nausea, or other symptoms, etc.

 

As long as the patient is connected with Medicare, it does not matter how old or young they are or their financial situation. Medicare pays for them to get the assistance they need at absolutely no cost to them, hence taking the burden of end-of-life care out of the hands of the patient, their friends and family.

 

Comfort and Relief Without the Financial Burden

 

If a person with a serious illness is ready for end-of-life care, palliative care can be of great help. Palliative care is an option for a person with serious, long-term illness and can also help a person manage pain, deal with the stress of treatment, and improve their quality of life during their final stages of life. The good news is Medicare covers all the costs associated with palliative care for people in need of this special support.

Rich or poor, young or old; no matter what kind of palliative care services are required, be it at home care, inpatient services or even mental health counseling that reduces emotional pain, these services are covered by Medicare, so the patient and their loved ones can experience a more peaceful and relaxing life transition. 

Want to learn more about what to expect from hospice care and Ameriprime Hospice? Click here to download your free brochure and share it with your loved ones. 

Have you discussed your deepest wishes and desires with your family and caregivers? Use our Planning Your Life’s Journey Toolkit for helpful answers and useful tips.

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