Medicare covers physician services, nursing services, medical equipment and supplies, medications for pain relief and hospice aide and homemaker services as part of hospice care. Based on the recommendations of a patient's hospice team, covered hospice services may also include physical and occupational services, a social worker and grief counseling.
Hospice care provides medical services and emotional and spiritual support to meet the needs of the terminally ill and their families. The goal is to keep the dying person comfortable and maximize the quality of life in the time remaining. Following death, hospice helps the family work through the grieving process with counseling and support services. Besides the services already mentioned, Medicare may pay for speech-language pathology services, dietary counseling, short-term inpatient care, short-term respite care and other Medicare-covered services recommended by the hospice treatment team as part of hospice care. Other insurance programs may vary in what they cover.
To qualify for Medicaid hospice benefits, a physician and a hospice medical director must certify that a patient is terminally ill and has a life expectancy of no more than six months. The patient must also sign a statement electing hospice care instead of other Medicaid-covered services for treating the terminal illness. Other insurance coverage and private hospice programs may have different qualifications for services.