Hospice care has grown in popularity in recent decades as more and more seniors are enrolling in end-of-life hospice care programs. Hospice care is supportive health care that is common in long-term care facilities, hospitals, and with some at-home treatment programs. The goal is hospice care is not to “cure” a patient or make him or her better, but, instead, to help patients manage pain and discomfort associated with a terminal illness or health situation.
Hospice care has been available to Americans for 35 years. In fact, the nation’s oldest hospice care program – Connecticut Hospice – turns 35 years old this year. Since its inception 35 years ago, the hospice care option has grown wildly in popularity, as hospice care helps to make patients more comfortable and eases the healthcare burden of families during the final months of a patient’s life.
Hospice care programs have grown so much in popularity over the past few decades that they have even doubled between 2000 and 2007 amongst individuals in the Medicare program. Nearly 1 million Medicare beneficiaries took advantage of hospice programs in 2007. According to the Associated Press, Medicare hospice spending has jumped by 250 percent as a result of the increase in enrollments and the longer lengths of hospice stay.
Now, doctors, nurses, and nursing assistants can even get certifications in hospice care from the American Board of Medical Specialties. The board issued 1,272 certificates in 2008, reinforcing the importance of hospice care and the legitimacy of hospice care specialization.
In order to ensure that Medicare beneficiaries are able to enroll in hospice care programs if they need to, it is important that Medicare beneficiaries review their Medicare plans now during the annual Open Enrollment period. Different Medicare programs provide different types and levels of coverage, according to a beneficiary’s preferences.
In order to determine whether or not your Medigap plan allows you to enroll in a hospice program, you may want to speak with a Medicare specialist. In some cases, it may be wise to enroll in a Medicare Advantage or Medicare Supplemental insurance program in order to increase your medical coverage, especially if hospice care may be an important option for you now or in the future.
Contact a Medicare specialist for more information about which Medicare, Medicare Advantage, or Medicare Supplemental plans may help to provide you with adequate hospice care. Call Medigap Advisors at 866-323-1441.