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How to pay for the rising costs of health care? Concerns over these costs are shared not only by elected officials, but by almost every family across the country as well. Many baby boomers are caring for their aging parents just as they are facing their own health care issues.

Yet, for almost 30 years, the Medicare Hospice Benefit has provided a model for financing end-of-life care. This benefit can bring great relief to families during one of life’s most difficult times.

The benefit covers virtually all aspects of hospice care with little out-of-pocket expense to the patient or family. As a result, the financial burdens often associated with caring for a seriously ill patient are lifted. Hospice care also offers support to the loved ones of the patient, bringing an added level of relief.

Hospice is paid for through the Medicare Hospice Benefit, Medicaid Hospice Benefit and most private insurers.

Medicare covers these hospice services and pays nearly all of their costs:

  • Doctor services .

  • Nursing care.

  • Medical equipment (like wheelchairs or walkers).

  • Medical supplies (like bandages and catheters).

  • Drugs for symptom control and pain relief(these will still come up in the drug testers).

  • Short-term care in the hospital or hospice facility, including respite and inpatient for pain and symptom management.

  • Home health aide and homemaker services.

  • Physical and occupational therapy.

  • Social work services.

  • Dietary counseling.

  • Grief support.

Medicare will still pay for covered benefits for any health problems that aren’t related to a terminal illness.

Families making end-of-life decisions for a loved one need compassion and support, not financial worries. The Medicare Hospice Benefit helps alleviate these concerns.

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