Medicare and Continuing Care

Frequently Asked Questions

30. What is hospice care, and will Medicare cover the costs?

Hospice care is a special way of caring for people who are terminally ill (dying) and helping their families cope. Hospice care includes treatment to relieve symptoms and keep the individual comfortable. The goal is to provide end-of-life care, not to cure the illness.

Medical care, nursing care, social services, drugs for the terminal and related conditions, durable medical equipment, and other types of items and services can be a part of hospice care.

Medicare does cover costs for hospice care. Medicare's hospice benefit provides for support and comfort to terminally ill patients, including services not usually paid for by Medicare. Hospice volunteers are available to do household chores, provide companionship, provide time off for the caregiver to do tasks outside of the home, and offer support to the patient and family. Medicare also pays for inpatient respite care (short term care for hospice patients) so that the usual caregiver can rest.

To find a hospice program, call 1-800-Medicare (1-800-633-4227) or your State Hospice Organization in the blue pages of your telephone book. (TTY users should call 1-877-486-2048.) You may also call your Regional Home Health Intermediary (RHHI) for more information about Medicare hospice benefits. An RHHI is a private company that contracts with Medicare to pay bills and check on the quality of hospice and home health care. Medicare requires the hospice agency and hospice team you choose to provide care.

To get local telephone numbers for your RHHI or State Hospice Organization, call 1-800-Medicare (1-800-633-4227). TTY users should call 1-877-486-2048.