Understanding Hospice Care: Qualifications, Differences from Palliative Care, and Payment Options

Hospice care is a type of end-of-life care that aims to improve the quality of life for someone with a terminal illness. The care can take place in different settings, such as at home, in a hospital, or in a nursing facility. This care can also vary in intensity, from routine to continuous, depending on the needs of the patient.


How to Qualify

To be eligible for hospice care, a person must have a terminal illness with a life expectancy of six months or less, as certified by a doctor. The person must also choose to receive hospice care instead of curative treatment for their illness. The person can change their mind at any time and stop hospice care.

What is the difference between hospice and palliative care?

The difference between hospice and palliative care is mainly based on the stage of the illness and the type of treatment. Palliative care is for anyone with a serious illness, regardless of the prognosis or whether they are still receiving curative or life-prolonging treatments.

The care is for people with a terminal illness who have less than six months to live and have decided to stop curative or life-prolonging treatments. Both types of care aim to improve the quality of life and provide symptom relief and emotional support.

Here is a table that summarizes some of the key differences between palliative and hospice care:

Palliative Care Hospice Care
Who’s eligible? Anyone with a serious, long-term illness, regardless of the stage
What does it involve? – Symptom relief: – Help making important medical and treatment decisions- Emotional, spiritual, and financial support for the patient and their family – Assistance in coordinating care
Can you still get curative treatments? Yes, if you wish
Can you still get life-prolonging treatments? Yes, if you wish
Who’s involved? A doctor or nurse(s) specializing in palliative care, as well as other healthcare professionals such as your primary doctor, pharmacists, social workers, and counselors
Where is it available? Depending on where you live, home care is sometimes available but is most often offered through a hospital or outpatient clinic

How to Pay

There are different ways to pay for hospice care, depending on the person’s situation and preferences. Here are some of the most common options:

  • Medicare: Medicare Part A covers up to 100% of hospice services, including the visits of hospice professionals, medication, equipment, and respite care. Medicare also covers care that is unrelated to the terminal illness, such as emergency care or preventive care.
  • Medicaid: Medicaid is a joint federal and state program that provides health coverage for low-income people. Most states offer hospice coverage similar to Medicare, but some may have different eligibility criteria or benefits. To use the Medicaid Hospice Benefit, the person must meet the income and asset limits of their state and choose a Medicaid-certified hospice provider.
  • Private insurance: Some private insurance plans or HMOs may cover hospice care, either partially or fully. The person should check with their insurance company or employer to find out what their plan covers and what their co-payments or deductibles are.
  • Veterans’ benefits: The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) provides hospice care for veterans who are eligible for VA health care. The VA covers the same hospice services as Medicare, as well as some additional benefits, such as bereavement counseling and burial benefits.
  • Private funds: Some people may choose to pay for hospice care out of their own pocket, either because they do not have insurance or because they want more flexibility in choosing their hospice provider or level of care.
  • Charitable organizations: Some charitable organizations, such as churches, foundations, or hospices, may offer financial assistance or free hospice care to people who cannot afford it or who do not have insurance. The person should contact their local hospice organization or social worker to find out what options are available in their area .

Hospice Care


This care is a compassionate and holistic approach to end-of-life care that can help people with terminal illnesses and their families. There are different ways to pay for the care, depending on the person’s situation and preferences.

The person should talk to their doctor, hospice provider, insurance company, and social worker to find out what options are best for them and their loved ones. The care can provide comfort, dignity, and peace of mind for people facing the end of life.

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