We are all on this journey called life together with its ups and downs and one thing that we are all positive of is that life is not always easy. Diseases, without prejudice, strike without warning. Or a lifelong battle with illness can take its toll. Especially as we age, we all know people who are bravely fighting disease right now. Whether its illness or age that enters our path, another surety is that we will have lots of questions. What’s next? Where do I turn? Are these treatments helping me? Are there other options?
Physicians and their patients need to know that hospice is an option. If treatments are not as effective as before, or there aren’t good odds with a treatment plan, then now is the time to learn more about hospice. By learning more now, when the time comes for hospice, it will be an easy choice to choose the compassionate care of hospice.
What is the hospice benefit? Many Americans are unaware that end of life care, through hospice, is a benefit that each person is entitled to. It is set up to assist terminally ill patients and their families to receive medical and emotional support in the final chapter of life. The hospice benefit includes a standard list of services, but these services are then tailored by Heart ‘n Home to fit the patient’s needs and wishes.
Who pays for hospice? Hospice is covered by Medicare, Medicaid, and most insurance, with no deductible. Once started, the hospice benefit should cover everything you need related to your illness. Most people have zero out of pocket expenses. Seeing that cost shouldn’t be an issue for using the hospice benefit, why aren’t more people using it? It boils down to miseducation and the stigma that hospice is a negative thing.
How long is a person on hospice? Since the establishment of the Medicare Hospice Benefit in 1982, the use of hospice for end-of-life care has grown steadily, yet many are not using their full benefit. The number of hospice patients with a short period of service is a concern. The National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization’s 2018 report indicates that 38 percent of Medicare beneficiaries are using hospice for 14 days or less. Because most patients get referred to hospice too late they are unable to know the full impact that hospice can have on their emotional and physical comfort and their overall quality of life.
Facts and Figures:
• 4,515 hospices were paid by CMS to provide care under the Medicare hospice benefit.
• 48.2% of Medicare decedents received one day or more of hospice care and were enrolled in hospice at the
time of death.
• Median length of service was 24 days.
• 68.51% of patients received care for 90 days or less, while those receiving care for more than 180 days
accounted for 20.54.%.
When should I consider hospice? The earlier a person is referred, the more Heart ‘n Home can do to help. The patient and family receive the most benefit if they begin hospice services before it is a crisis. Sadly, many people believe that hospice is unavailable or inappropriate until literally, the last days of a person’s life.
Research from Yale published by the Journal of the American Geriatric Society suggests that individuals who access hospice care often do so too late to benefit fully. Also, additional strategies are needed to better address the high burden of distressing symptoms and disability at the end of life.
Why choose hospice now? Hospice is about living, not about dying. How do you want to live out your last months of life? This is your life and your journey. It’s your right to choose the comfort of hospice. Comfort care is an essential part of medical care at end of life. Since the goal is to prevent or relieve pain and suffering, while respecting one’s wishes, earlier referral to hospice helps achieve this goal. Often times a person’s pain is not just physical. Spiritual and emotional issues can take some time to work through for the patient and possibly the family. When given an adequate amount of time, relief can be provided to the entire family, not just the dying individual.
There are numerous reasons to choose hospice and to choose Heart ‘n Home Hospice. Heart ‘n Home is filled with compassionate employees who truly care for their patients and families. If you know someone that could potentially benefit from hospice services, please call us today. We would be happy to meet with you and answer all of your questions.
*The primary data source used for the findings in NHPCO’s Facts and Figures report is CMS hospice claims data included in the hospice standard analytical file Limited Data Set. The Hospice Cost Reports, also available from CMS, provided supplemental information.