Hospice care

December 5, 2014

Medicare offers a benefit for those nearing the end of life, called hospice care. This benefit is optional, so you must choose to receive this care. For you to qualify for hospice, a doctor must certify that you have 6 months or less to live. When you choose hospice care, you only waive your rights to Medicare benefits that would cover treatment of your terminal illness.

Medicare hospice benefits are covered if:

  • You are eligible for Medicare Hospital Insurance (Part A), and
  • Your doctor and the hospice medical director both certify that you are
    • Terminally ill;
    • Expected to die within 6 months; and
    • You choose hospice care and waive your right to other Medicare-covered benefits to treat your terminal illness, and
    • You get care from a hospice program that Medicare approves.

Talk with your medical team before you start to get any of these services. Make sure Medicare approves your hospice or you may have to pay the entire cost of these services.