End of Life Care Improving for Americans on Medicare
In recent years, end of life care has been improving for Americans on Medicare. This has resulted in fewer patients dying as often in hospital settings.
Americans can expect the end of life care to continue to improve as time goes on.
This allowed many to undergo a less stressful transition; also, lessening the hardship on themselves as well as family members.
End-of-Life Care is Improving for Americans on Medicare
Three days following hospitalization, people were less likely to pass away.
For those in the last 90 days of life, a decrease was noticed in those with 3+ hospitalizations. Going from 11.5% in 2009 to 7.1% in 2015.
Percentage rates will likely decline over the years.
The Affordable Care Act of 2010 was designed for end-of-life care to improve for Americans on Medicare. Also, this act provides more coverage for hospice and palliative care services.
It’s agreed that the majority of these positive changes and percentages is related to the act of 2010.
What is “End-of-Life Care” for Americans with Medicare?
All health care provided to someone in the last days or years prior to death, no matter if the cause of death is sudden or as a result of terminal illness (which is a longer period of care).
The most common causes of death for those 65 and older include:
- Cardiovascular disease
- And chronic respiratory diseases
Why Proper End-of-Life Care is Important
Once you’ve reached this stage of life, a serious and frank conversation is imperative to determine what your priorities are for this phase of life.
Upon reaching this point in life, you have a good understanding of prognosis, the level of severity of the condition, and treatment options.
Many people wish to avoid being in the hospital and want to stay in the comfort of their own home.
In fact, research has found that most adults (about 90%) have said they’d prefer to get end-of-life care in their own home should they become terminally ill.
However, data has shown that only about 1/3rd of Medicare beneficiaries (age 65 or older) died in their home.
Medicare started to focus on advance care planning, conversations that physicians and other health professionals have with their patients, to discuss individual preferences and end-of-life care.
Choosing the Right Assisted Living Facility
Should you decide to stay in an assisted living facility towards the end of life, research should be done to ensure the facility you choose will provide you with quality medical care, to your standards.
This is especially important in the end-of-life phase. You don’t want to spend your last days uncomfortable or miserable.
Does Medicare Cover End-Of-Life Care
Yes, in fact, Medicare is the largest insurer of health care that’s provided during a person’s last year of life.
Roughly, a quarter of Medicare spending is for services provided to beneficiaries in the last year of life. This proportion has remained the same over that last few decades.
The cost of health care received in this last phase of life is generally very high. This shouldn’t come as a surprise considering many who die, have complex and/or multiple serious conditions.
Medicare will cover a variety of health care services to beneficiaries that are eligible up until their death.
Services covered by Medicare include:
- Care received in the hospital (and other Medicare-approved inpatient facilities)
- Home health care
- Physician services
- Diagnostic testing
Medicare Covers Hospice and Palliative Care
Beneficiaries who are terminally ill are eligible to receive Medicare hospice benefits, including additional services that aren’t covered under Traditional Medicare.
For those who don’t want curative treatment, Medicare offers a variety of hospice benefit services.
Depending on your health status and plan, coverage can include the following:
- Nursing care
- Doctor services
- Medical equipment such as walkers or oxygen
- Medical supplies such as bandages, or catheters
- Grief and loss counseling for you (and your family)
- Palliative medications (used to increase the patient’s quality of life)
- Hospice aide and homemaker services
- Physical and/or occupational therapy services
- Speech-language pathology services
- Social work services
- Short term inpatient care for managing symptoms and pain
- Up to 5 days at a time of respite care for family and/or caregivers to give them a break
Medicare beneficiaries who choose hospice have no cost-sharing responsibilities for a majority of services.
Qualifying for Hospice Coverage Under Medicare
To qualify for Medicare coverage for hospice, your physician must confirm that you expect to pass away in the next 6 months. Providing your illness runs the anticipated course.
Should you live longer than the predicted 6 months, hospice coverage may still be available; your healthcare provider and the hospice team will need to re-certify the criteria of eligibility.
How Long Does Medicare Cover Palliative Care
Palliative care involves treatment for those terminally ill, improving the end of life care for Americans on Medicare during this difficult time.
Treatment involves focusing on the management of symptoms and pain and providing a sense of comfort to the patient and their families.
Medicare hospice benefits will include coverage for what you need until you pass away.
Medicare and Hospice
When hospice benefits begin, Medicare will no longer cover any treatment designed to cure your terminal illness including any related conditions. Prescriptions are for symptom control or pain relief.
Your Hospice team must arrange any care received for your terminal illness.
Medicare doesn’t cover room and board if you receive care in your own home, nursing facility or hospice inpatient setting. Medicare will only cover respite care services or short-term inpatient care.
Furthermore, improving end-of-life care is key to transitioning into that last stage of life.