Seniors with Medicare Part A hospital insurance are eligible for hospice care if their doctors certify that they are terminally ill and have six months or less to live, reports Medicare. Hospice patients must declare in writing that they accept palliative care instead of treatment for their terminal illness.
Only a patient's regular doctor or hospice doctor can certify the patient's eligibility for hospice care, explains Medicare. Hospice care usually takes place at home. A hospice care team consists of doctors, nurses, therapists, counselors and social workers. Hospice care also includes medical equipment such as walkers and wheelchairs, supplies such as catheters and bandages, and prescription drugs to help control pain and symptoms. Hospice care does not include any treatment or prescription drug that a doctor provides with the intention of curing the illness or any of its related conditions.
Although patients must have a life expectancy of less than six months to receive hospice care, a hospice doctor can recertify the terminal illness so the patient continues to receive care, according to Medicare. A patient who improves and decides to seek treatment can terminate the hospice care at anytime and return to standard Medicare coverage. If the patient has a relapse, he can return to hospice care.