"When there is no cure, relieve often and comfort always"
A person should be able to stay in the comfort and with dignity in their own home wherever that is, under the supervision of a coordinated team of hospice staff and volunteers. Family members, too, will be supported in their care giving roles and in their grief. There is also a misconception that the beneficiaries will be penalized if the patient lives longer than six months. Nothing could be further from the truth. The Department of Health and Human Services wrote this in 2000. In no way are hospice beneficiaries restricted to six months coverage. There is not limit on how long an individual beneficiary can receive hospice services, as long as they meet the eligibility criteria. As long as a physician continues to properly and conscientiously recertify the six-month prognosis, a beneficiary can continue to receive the hospice benefit. Also, the Balanced Budget Act changed the law to make it easier for beneficiaries to transfer in and out of hospice in their prognosis improves or they want to resume curative care, and then to enroll back in hospice again later. Whenever patients are discharged live from hospice their regular benefits are immediately restored, with not waiting period required.
For services related to terminal illness, there are virtually no out-of-pocket expenses, even for drugs, equipment and other high cost items that are often needed in the last months of life. The family's burden is reduced by the financial relief that the Hospice Benefit provides, and by volunteers that hospice offers in addition to the hospice staff. In our program, there are volunteers that lend a helping hand to the family. They may do household chores, keep the patient company, and generally respond to the family's need for support. Bereavement services are available to the family for about a year after the death, this is also a hospice benefit, so the hospice patient can be reassured that support will continue well after they are gone.
Having access to the Hospice Benefit means that comprehensive care at the end of life does not have to be expensive or burdensome to your family.