Q:

How long does Medicare pay for hospice care?

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Quick Answer

Medicare Part A hospice care is available for patients who qualified doctors or hospice medical directors certify are terminally ill and have six months or less to live, reports Medicare. If the patient lives over six months, doctors can extend hospice care as long as the patient is certified terminally ill.

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Full Answer

The first two Medicare Part A hospice benefit periods last 90 days each, according to Medicare. These are followed by 60-day periods that last as long as doctors continue to certify the patient's illness is terminal. Hospice care stops if the patient's illness goes into remission, his health improves for some other reason or he opts out of hospice care for any other reason. The patient then goes back to receiving standard Medicare treatment.

Hospice care is intended to care for and comfort terminally ill patients at their homes and does not cover treatments, drugs or emergency care intended to cure the patient, states Medicare. It covers a hospice team of doctors, nurses, speech and occupational therapy specialists, dietary counseling and grief counseling for the patient and the patient's family. It also includes medical supplies and medical equipment. Drugs to control pain and symptoms may involve a copayment. A copayment may also be needed for short-term inpatient or respite care to relieve pain and symptoms. Medicare does not cover room and board when a patient lives in an outside facility such as a nursing home.

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