When it comes time to consider hospice and palliative care, one of the options to weigh must be the cost. The cost of end of life care can be expensive, so it is important to have some information upfront.
A Difficult Time; A Difficult Decision
Many hospice costs can be paid by Medicare, but there remains plenty of costs left over for the patient or the family to contend with. For this reason, many patients wait until the very end before entering hospice. To qualify to have hospice care paid for by Medicare, both the patient’s doctor and a hospice medical director have to certify that the patient has six months or less to live. This is not an easy admission for the family to make.
As hospice care is intended to make a patient comfortable and not to attempt to cure them, determining which treatments will be covered by Medicare, or insurance, and which will not, becomes tricky. A treatment that can be used to cure a disease can often be used to make someone more comfortable as well. When this happens, often the treatment will not be covered, and the patient or patient’s family will need to pay for it. Since hospice care costs that are not covered can be as high as $10K per month, this can be a serious issue.
Chronic Care Benefits & Long-Term Care
Some private insurance companies will pay for end of life care costs. These palliative care costs will be included as part of their chronic care benefits. In addition, there are options for long-term care policies. The premiums for these policies can be as much as $60K to $100K over your lifetime, but they will cover the costs of hospice care that Medicare will not.
For lower income families, if you are covered by Medicaid, it may cover some hospice care treatments and medications. It is important to be sure you understand what is covered, and what is not, and if there are any co-pays or other fees. It is always best to ask up front so that there are no surprises later on.
All Hospice Care Is Not the Same
It is also imperative to understand that not all hospice treatment facilities are the same. Depending on their size and budgets, the services they offer will be different. Smaller hospice centers will be less likely to offer more expensive end-of-life treatments since Medicare and your insurance will not pay for these. These types of facilities simply don’t have the budget to absorb the costs.
If you are concerned that a particular hospice facility will not offer the services your loved one needs, then make sure to look around and review your options. At the end of the day, what matters most is finding a hospice center that will work with you and your family to ensure that your loved one’s final days are as comfortable and pain free as possible.
Do you have any tips that may help other family caregivers? Share them in the comments below.