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What is hospice?

Hospice offers palliative care that seeks to comfort rather than cure. Hospice offers comprehensive, compassionate care for people at the end of life and support for their families. There are more than 3,000 hospice programs across the country and 100 in Michigan.

Who can receive hospice?

Any person facing the advancing stages of any terminal illness is eligible for palliative care. Hospice care is appropriate when the following conditions are met:

All U.S. citizens age 65 and older are entitled to Medicare coverage for hospice at the end of life.

Where is hospice care provided?

Hospice is a philosophy of care, not a place. Most hospice patients receive care in their home or the home of a relative or friend. Palliative care can also be provided in many long-term care facilities, assisted living facilities, hospitals or nursing homes. Some hospices have residential units designed to provide a homelike setting where hospice is provided.

How is hospice care different from other types of home health care?

Who pays for hospice?

Hospice care is covered by most insurers, including Medicare, Medicaid, Blue Cross/Blue Shield and most private insurers and HMOs. Hospice is a covered benefit under Medicare for people who have a life expectancy of six months or less. Most policies cover all costs of hospice care, though some may require a copay for prescriptions.

When is hospice appropriate?

Palliative care becomes appropriate when treatments are no longer effective and the burden of the disease becomes too much to bear for the patient and family. Hospice of Michigan aims to provide relief from physical and emotional pain so that the patient and family can spend their remaining days with comfort and dignity.

What if the patient gets better?

If the patient's condition improves, he or she can be discharged from hospice and return to aggressive treatment or resume daily life. If the patient should later need to return to hospice care, Medicare and most insurance programs will allow additional coverage.

What if my doctor does not mention hospice?

The patient and family should feel free to discuss hospice care at any time with their physician, other health care professionals, clergy or friends. Everyone is urged to prepare Advance Directives that spell out the type of care we want to receive at the end of life.

Who can refer a patient to a hospice program?

Anyone can refer a patient to a hospice program. To be admitted, a patient must:

What does the hospice admission process involve?

When a patient is referred to Hospice of Michigan, the office will call the patient's physician to make sure he or she agrees that hospice care is appropriate for this patient. The patient will be asked to sign a consent form confirming that the patient understands that hospice care is palliative, that is, aimed at comfort and pain relief, rather than curative.

Where can I get more information about hospice?

These are some organizations that can give you more information: The National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization, National Hospice Foundation, American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine, and Hospice of Michigan, (888) 247-5701.