Recent statistics gathered by the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization (NHPCO) state that 1.65 million Americans are cared for by hospice organizations each year. The number continues to grow. Why? Because hospice provides the care Americans have said they want.
A Gallup poll has determined that 88% of Americans would prefer to die at home, free of pain, surrounded by loved ones. This is what hospice care makes possible. As a whole, our nation’s hospices appear to be doing a good job. 94% of Americans who’ve had family members in hospice rate the care received as good to excellent, according to NHPCO research.
One of the key messages that hospices nationwide are communicating to the public deals with the six-month time period. The major qualification for hospice care is a prognosis indicating that a patient has six months or less to live. But there is not a six-month limit on hospice service.
A patient may receive hospice care for as long as necessary when a physician certifies that he or she meets eligibility requirements.
Under the Medicare Hospice Benefit, two 90-day periods (six months) are followed by an unlimited number of 60-day periods.
Because there is the six-month prognosis requirement AND the initial enrollment period for hospice is also six months, there are misunderstandings. Some patients and family members may fear that if the patient does not die within the six-month period, the patient will be dismissed from hospice. But that is not the case.
Hospice patients do not have to worry about “using up” their hospice benefit.
Even though hospice care is becoming more popular in America and familiar to more Americans, the education process regarding hospice care is an ongoing effort. If there is an aspect of hospice care that is not quite clear to you and your family members, call us at Hope Hospice at 314-984-9800.
Hope Hospice provides hospice care to residents of St. Louis city and county, Jefferson county, St. Charles county and Franklin county.