FAQ: What services are typically covered by hospice benefits?

Most people receive hospice care through the Medicare Hospice Benefit. Medicaid and the Veteran’s Health Administration follow the Medicare benefit model.

The services that the Medicare Hospice Benefit covers are:

  • Doctor services
  • Nursing Care
  • Medical equipment (such as hospital beds, wheelchairs or walkers)
  • Medical supplies (such as bandages and catheters)
  • Drugs to control pain and other symptoms
  • Home health aide and homemaker services
  • Physical and occupational therapy
  • Speech therapy (to help with problems such as swallowing)
  • Social worker services
  • Dietary counseling
  • Emotional and spiritual counseling to help the patient and family with grief and loss
  • Short-term in-patient care in the hospital, including “respite care”, which is a service designed to provide family members a short break from caring for their loved one at home

Keep two things clearly in mind:

The services provided depend on what the patient and the family need. Which services a patient receives and how often services are received are based on the needs of each patient and family. The services that are provided can be adjusted as the situation of the patient and family change over time. When patients decide to receive hospice care, the hospice talks with them about what their personalized care involves.

Some hospices provide additional services beyond those covered by the Medicare Hospice Benefit or other insurance. Examples are special types of chemotherapy and radiation that do not cure a disease, but help to ease symptoms (this is called “palliative” chemotherapy and radiation). If there is a service that you think you or your family member needs, ask your hospice nurse or doctor about getting it.