Individuals with Medicare (yes, Medicare!) may indeed be eligible for coverage for hospice care through their policy. Patients of any age with Medicare that have been diagnosed with a terminal illness and have been medically certified as having only six months or less left to live are eligible. If perchance, the patient continues to live beyond that six month period of hospice care, coverage will be extended as long as the patient is believed to still be within the six month period of dying.
The vast majority of hospice patients pass away in thirty days or less, but others may go on for years with a similar medical outlook in regards to expected lifespan. Hospice care is administered by an interdisciplinary team of medical professionals including nurses, doctors, nursing assistants, and even volunteers who ensure the patient’s needs are being met. Many hospice programs also offer through health insurance counseling services for the ill person and their close family members as they go through the grief process.
Treatment is not focused on curing or preventing disease since, at the point of requiring hospice care, a disease has already taken its toll on the body and been deemed terminal. Rather, the focus is on ensuring the patient’s comfort and reducing any pain or discomfort during their final days.
This is simply not the case at all, as patients may be eligible for hospice care for other conditions such as stroke, Alzheimer’s, renal failure, end-stage heart disease, end-stage lung disease, and some other conditions. Mostly, if a diagnosis is acceptable on a death certificate, it would qualify a patient for obtaining hospice care through their health insurance provider.
Actual coverage varies depending on one’s actual health insurance company and particular policy, but most do indeed offer coverage for this choice of care.
Consider a Career in Hospice
To hear a hospice employee tell it, there are few healthcare careers more rewarding than those in palliative care. While admittedly highly emotional, the satisfaction that is gleaned from helping patients and their families through their difficult time is unlike anything else in medicine. And, an unfortunate reality of having an aging population in America is that hospice care will continue to grow and become more and more “popular” as the baby boomer generation reaches their twilight years. As a result, careers in hospice and other similar services will become more and more available during a time when jobs in America aren’t always easy to come by. So, what should you expect out of working in hospice?
One of the nice things about working at a hospice center is that there are a wide variety of support positions available. If you are a medical doctor, you can use your experience and expertise to help monitor your patients – many of whom are quite sick – and ensure that they are comfortable and well-versed on the state of their overall health. The ultimate goal here is to help maintain the best possible quality of health for the individual, while also keeping their family members informed on what to expect in the coming weeks or months. Nursing positions in hospice are also quite popular among healthcare professionals because these areas give the right kind of person an opportunity to develop a meaningful relationship with the patient and their families when they are undoubtedly looking for someone to trust.
In addition to the nurses and doctors, hospice care requires support staff and volunteers. A big reason that hospice has become such a well-respected institution is that of the comfort that it provides its patients. In many cases, patients far outlive their prognosis with a much better quality of life than they would in a sterile, impersonal hospital setting. What’s more, support staff works with the patients and can often help them meet personal goals, create art, bond with new friends and long-lost family members, and enjoy the final chapter in their lives. Social workers and mental health professionals are also integral to the process, helping provide comfort, insight, and perspective at a time when patients and their families need it most. Even administrative staff plays a significant role in hospice care. Everyone from insurance experts to data entry specialists and office managers is necessary to help the office run reliably.
Make no mistake, working at the hospice isn’t always easy. There will be emotional days and times when you might wish that your job was a little easier. With that said, the personal and professional satisfaction that comes from bonding with your patients and helping them during a period when they most need your support and care is immeasurably important. Careers in healthcare are and continue to be widely available. Dedicating yourself to palliative care is an excellent career option or a great way to volunteer your free time. Contact your community hospice center today to learn more about how you can help.