Hospice care is a type of care focused on providing comfort and support to patients nearing the end of their lives. Hospice care can be provided in a patient’s home, a hospice facility, or a hospital. Patients and their families often choose this type of care when they realize that the patient’s illness cannot be cured. This blog post will discuss everything you need to know about hospice care! We will cover how to get started, how it works, what to expect, how to pay for hospice care, and more!

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How to Pay for Hospice Care: Exploring Payment Options

Understanding the options for paying for hospice care is important for patients and their families during a critical phase of life. Hospice care offers specialized support and comfort to individuals approaching life’s end, regardless of the setting—at home, in a hospice center, or within a hospital. The decision to opt for hospice care typically comes after learning that an illness is beyond cure, focusing instead on quality of life. This article focuses on the practical and financial aspects of securing hospice care.

We discuss different payment options, helping you through this challenging period with clarity. According to the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization, over 1.5 million patients received hospice care in the United States in a recent year, which shows the importance of accessible information on funding such essential services.

Hospice Care Costs

The cost of end-of-life care can be a significant financial burden for families. However, hospice care is often less expensive than traditional medical care. This is because hospice care focuses on comfort and quality of life rather than treating the underlying disease. Hospice care is typically provided in the home, which can also help to reduce costs. In addition, hospice care is covered by most insurance plans, including Medicare and Medicaid. As a result, families can rest assured that they will not be responsible for the full cost of care

In-home vs. Facility-based Costs

Hospice at Home

  • Cost: Generally, it’s less expensive. Since care is given at home, you save on room and board costs that you would have in a facility.
  • Insurance: Medicare, Medicaid, and most private insurances cover hospice care services at home, which include visits from nurses and social workers and support for pain management and symptom relief.
  • Extra Costs: You might need to pay out-of-pocket for home modifications or for a caregiver to help when hospice staff aren’t there.

Hospice in a Facility

  • Cost: It tends to be higher because it includes the cost of staying in the facility, like a nursing home, hospice center, or hospital.
  • Insurance: Just like at home, Medicare, Medicaid, and private insurance usually cover hospice care services. However, room and board costs might not be fully covered, especially for long-term stays.
  • Benefits: Despite the higher cost, facilities offer around-the-clock care from a professional team, which can be reassuring for families and necessary for patients with complex needs.

What’s Included in a Hospice Program

The hospice interdisciplinary team will develop a care plan specifically for the patient and family. This plan is based on assessing the patient’s medical, social, emotional, and spiritual needs.

Hospice programs cover a comprehensive range of end-of-life services that include but are not limited to:

  • Pain management
  • Symptom control
  • Emotional and spiritual support for hospice patients and families
  • Bereavement counseling for families
  • 24-hour access to hospice staff
  • Medical equipment
  • Medication
  • Routine home care
  • Therapy

Hospice Eligibility Criteria

When it comes to figuring out who can use hospice care, it’s not just about whether you can afford it. It’s mostly about the care needs of the person who is sick.

Here’s a simple breakdown to help you understand who is eligible:

  • Medical Condition: The main rule for hospice is that it’s for people with a serious illness that can’t be cured. This includes diseases like advanced cancer, heart failure, and Alzheimer’s disease.
  • Doctor’s Opinion: A doctor has to confirm that if the illness follows its normal path, the patient likely has six months or less to live. But, if someone lives longer than six months, they can still receive hospice care as long as the doctor continues to certify their condition.
  • Care Goals: Hospice care is when someone focuses on comfort instead of trying to cure their illness. Treatments aim to ease symptoms and make the patient as comfortable as possible.
  • Care Setting: People often think hospice care only happens at home, but it can also be provided in nursing homes, hospice centers, and hospitals. The key is what’s best for the patient and their family.

Understanding these criteria is the first step in accessing hospice services. It’s about making sure that those who need this type of care can get it, focusing on their quality of life.

Who Pays For Hospice Care And How it Works

In the United States, hospice care is typically covered by Medicare and Medicaid. Medicare is a federal health insurance program that covers 65 years or older patients. At the same time, Medicaid is a state-run program that provides coverage for low-income hospice patients. In order to qualify for hospice coverage, patients must be certified by a physician as being terminally ill with a life expectancy of six months or less.

Once a patient is enrolled in a hospice program, they will receive care from a team of hospice professionals who provide services such as pain management, emotional support, and spiritual counseling. While Medicare and Medicaid typically cover the cost of hospice care, patients may also be responsible for paying some out-of-pocket costs, such as medications and medical equipment. In the same way, there are other options available such as veteran’s benefits or private health insurance.

Funding Hospice Care


As we previously mentioned, there are a few different ways to pay for hospice care. The most common way is through Medicare.

If you or your loved one is eligible for Medicare, you can use it to cover the cost of hospice care. Medicare hospice benefit covers hospice services, which pay for medically necessary services and supplies related to terminal illness.

To be eligible for Medicare coverage, you must be enrolled in Medicare Part A and have a life expectancy of six months or less. You can receive Medicare-approved hospice care from any Medicare-certified hospice provider if you meet these criteria. Hospice care can include inpatient and outpatient services, home health care, and respite care. With the medicare hospice benefit, you can rest assured that your loved ones will receive the care they need during this difficult time.

What’s Not Included

Medicare won’t cover any of these once your hospice benefit starts:

  • Treatments designed to cure your terminal disease or other related problems.
  • Prescription drugs to cure your illness (you only get symptom control or pain relief).
  • Care from any hospice provider that wasn’t chosen by the hospice medical team. You must receive hospice care from the hospice provider you selected.
  • Medicare does not cover room and board.


According to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, “Medicaid is a government-funded health insurance plan that covers low-income individuals and families.” If you or any of your loved ones are qualified for Medicaid, you can use it to cover the cost of hospice care. Hospice care is a type of end-of-life care that focuses on symptom management and providing support for patients and their families. Moreover, Medicaid can help cover the cost of hospice care, making it more affordable for families already struggling with the financial burden of a terminal illness.

Health Insurance

Health insurance coverage for hospice care has become more common in recent years. However, many patients are still unaware that such coverage exists. If you have private insurance, make sure to check with your insurer to see if they offer any coverage for hospice care. Even if your policy does not cover the full cost of care, it may provide some financial assistance that can help to offset the cost of care. In addition, many private insurers offer special discounts or bonuses for policyholders who use hospice care. As a result, it’s worth investigating what your private health insurer can do to help you pay for hospice care.

Veteran’s Benefits

The Veterans Administration (VA) recognizes the unique needs of veterans. It offers many benefits to help them in times of need. One of these benefits is hospice care. The VA provides hospice care benefit coverage for veterans enrolled in the VA health care system and meets certain eligibility criteria. Hospice care benefits include reimbursement for medical and nursing services, prescriptions, supplies, and equipment. Veterans can also receive respite care, which is temporary care provided to veterans so their primary caregivers can take a break.

how is hospice paid for

Patients Without Health Insurance

Finally, you can pay for hospice care out of pocket. If you do not have Medicare, Medicaid, or private health insurance, you can still receive hospice care. You will just have to pay for it yourself.

While most hospice patients are cared for at home, some may require the level of care provided by an inpatient facility for pain and symptom management. If you don’t have insurance and can’t afford the service otherwise, a hospice may provide it for free or on a sliding scale basis. This financial assistance will come from different sources, such as donations, gifts, and grants. Depending on who pays for the care, a patient’s eligibility for hospice benefits may change.

Currently, Medicare Hospice Benefit covers most hospice care in the US with the following requirements:

  • Patients diagnosed with a terminal or serious illness
  • You must be 65 years or older
  • The doctor and the medical director of a hospice certify that the patient has six months or less to live.
  • Other hospice benefit plans follow similar Medicare standards.

Viatical Settlement And Hospice Care

If you’re terminally ill, you might be able to sell your life insurance policy for cash. This is known as a viatical settlement. The proceeds from the sale can be used to pay for your living expenses, including the cost of hospice care. They also can allow you to spend important time with loved ones and take a trip that you’ve always dreamed of taking. The proceeds from a viatical settlement can be used however you see fit. .

The Bottom Line

Hospice care is a type of end-of-life care that focuses on managing pain and symptoms rather than trying to cure a terminal illness. Hospice care can help to ease the transition for both the patient and their family members as they come to terms with the end of life. It’s provided in various settings, including hospitals, nursing homes, and at home.

In the same way, a team of healthcare professionals, including doctors, nurses, social workers, chaplains, and volunteers, will care for the patients. If you or your loved one is nearing the end of their life, we hope this blog post has helped you understand everything you need to know about hospice care. And remember, if you have any questions about how to pay for hospice care, we are here to help.

About the Author: Eugene Houchins

In 2005, Gene Houchins founded American Life Fund, addressing a significant gap in financial options for life insurance policyholders. As its leader, Gene specializes in providing swift financial support for those with severe illnesses. Through viatical settlements, his organization is able to assist patients with funding medical and living expenses through their existing life insurance policies.

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