| Thu, May 03, 2012 @ 09:00 AM

Can Medicare Help with Home Health and Hospice Care?

Posted by Medicare Made Clear

Can Medicare Help with Home Health and Hospice Care?Whether you are looking at Medicare options for yourself or a loved one, a little planning goes a long way. This means looking not only at current health care needs, but also planning for the future. What happens if you or a loved one are homebound and require home health care services? Will Medicare cover hospice care? Thinking about these two questions can go a long way to helping you cover your bases now and in the future.


Home Health Care: Getting You Back On Track

Home health care is just what it sounds like: health care services that can be given in your home. The goal of home health care is to heal an illness or injury, so you can get better and move forward with your life.

Home health care includes skilled nursing care you get on a part-time or non-regular basis. It may include services such as:

  • Physical and occupational therapy

  • Speech therapy

  • Wound care

  • Patient and caregiver education

  • IV or nutritional therapy

  • Injections

  • Monitoring serious illness and unstable health status

Home health care might also include help from a home health aide with activities of daily living and household chores until you get better.

Medicare has certain requirements you need to meet to get help paying for your home health care services. Learn more about these and get other important information in the Medicare.gov publication, “Medicare and Home Health Care.”

Hospice Care: Providing Comfort When You Need it Most

Hospice care is for those with illnesses so serious that life expectancy is 6 months or less. The focus of hospice care services is to make the last months of life as comfortable as possible. All areas of care are served, from the physical, emotional, social and spiritual needs of the patient, to the health and well-being of caregivers and loved ones.

In general, hospice care covers visits from a team of professionals, who may include:

  • Nurses and Nursing Assistants

  • Doctors

  • Social workers

  • Chaplains

  • Trained volunteers

This special team of professionals creates and carries out a plan of care set up especially for you or your loved one. This plan is designed to control symptoms and manage pain 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. You’ll be able to get most of your care wherever you live, though in certain circumstances your care may also include short-term stays in a hospital or nursing home.

If you choose hospice care, you and your family will need to select a Medicare-approved hospice program in your area. Your doctor and the hospice program’s medical director have to confirm that you or your loved one qualify for hospice services. To learn more about hospice care, you can download the Medicare.gov publication, “Medicare Hospice Benefits.”

Do I Have to Worry About Costs?

Original Medicare Parts A and B pays for services provided by the home health care agency you’ve chosen. Remember that getting services from a Medicare-approved agency can greatly reduce your out-of-pocket costs.

A Note about Medicare Advantage plans: If you are a member of a Medicare Advantage plan, your plan may have different rules about the home health care agencies you use or the services it will cover. Contact your plan for more details.

Hospice care is covered under Medicare Part A. Those who choose Medicare-approved hospice care will get 100% of the cost of their care paid for. This includes medications, medical supplies and equipment like walkers and wheelchairs, as well as the services provided by your care team.

A Note about Medicare Advantage plans: Medicare Advantage plans do not cover hospice care. You can still keep your Medicare Advantage plan if you need hospice care, though. In this case, Original Medicare Part A would pay for hospice care, and your Medicare Advantage plan would still cover other health care services.

Finding the Care Program That’s Right For You

For a list of home health agencies in your area and the main services they offer, visit the Medicare.gov Home Health Compare tool.

For information about hospice care programs in your area and the benefits they offer, call the Medicare helpline at 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227), TTY 1-877-486-2048, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week or visit medicare.gov.

If you have questions about Medicare Made Clear, call 1-877-619-5582, TTY 711, 8 a.m. – 8 p.m. local time, 7 days a week.


Hospice Care: Medicare Made Clear

Medicare.gov Home Health Compare tool

UnitedHealthcare® Solutions for Caregivers program (plan membership not required)


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