It is VERY rare that we publish and distribute educational material from outside our office, but I felt that all we learned from Kristen created an extenuating circumstance. We recorded a Podcast recently that you can check out on iTunes or YouTube, whether you’d like to listen or watch (whichever your preference). Otherwise, please enjoy this rarity – an extremely informative article written for our office, by Kristen Mazzucco!
Did you know that 61% of Americans 65 and older are going bankrupt during their last year of life, due to healthcare costs?!
80% of the prescriptions seniors can’t afford are used to treat serious, chronic health conditions. The end result is that many are leaving prescriptions unfilled and avoiding seeking medical care altogether. This has been truer this past year than ever before, primarily due the pandemic.
In their last year of life, a patient has an average of 7 admissions to the hospital, 3 stays in a rehab facility, and 2 home health episodes before the hospice benefit is ever even discussed.
We want to equip you with the knowledge to help you gain access to health benefits you didn’t even know existed.
Home health care and particularly, hospice are widely misunderstood. These benefits have the ability to alleviate several financial burdens that are associated with healthcare costs in older adults.
Home Health Care services are available to help rehabilitate a patient or to educate a patient on a new diagnosis or new medications, and it is provided for a short, finite amount of time. For instance, Heartland Home Health Care provides nursing, PT and OT, with goal of getting a patient safe and independent back into the community.
Hospice is care for a patient who is on a declining trajectory, unlike a path to recovery like home health patients.
But wait, isn’t hospice the “death” benefit?
No! It is a LIVING benefit!
In fact, hospice care prolongs the lives of those who choose it, compared with those who don’t. According to studies from NHPCO (National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization), terminal patients live from 20 days to more-than 2 months longer on hospice care. Sadly, more than half of Americans die without ever electing this benefit.
Additionally, the hospice benefit can help to alleviate the financial burden of healthcare costs!
In fact, Hospice is the only 100% Medicare-paid benefit!
Under Medicare Part A, hospice covers the following services: nursing and doctor services, medication and medical equipment related to the patient’s terminal illness, supportive services for the patient and his or her family or caregiver. Incontinence supplies are included in the hospice benefit and there are small (or no) copays or deductibles.
The cost of medical equipment can be an average of $500 -$1000 dollars per month! The average cost to rent a hospital bed is anywhere from $200-$500. Home oxygen is around $200 a month. It costs around $15 a day to rent a wheelchair. Incontinence supplies average $200-$300 every month! These things can be a tremendous financial burden on the patient and their families. Remember, these are items that are all covered under the hospice benefit!
One of the amazing parts about the hospice benefit is that these services can be provided wherever a patient calls home – whether the patient resides in a nursing home, assisted living facility, and even if they choose to remain in the family home in which they have lived for 30+ years!
It goes without saying that the overwhelming majority of people over 65 want to stay in their home for as long as possible. The hospice care team can help to aggressively manage symptoms at home, ultimately helping the patient avoid multiple trips to the hospital and avoiding lengthy stays in nursing facilities. In fact, this team of healthcare professionals can help keep patients safe and healthy at home.
There are additional supportive services available to the caregivers. Hospice includes caregiver relief, in which the patient can stay for up to 5 days in a hospice-approved nursing facility. The entire cost of the stay is covered by hospice. Social workers and spiritual care counselors may also address the emotional need of the patient and the family, if they choose to utilize them.
Contrary to popular belief, hospice care doesn’t end when the patient dies. For instance, at Heartland, bereavement support is available to the family for a full 13 months following the passing of their loved one.
But WHO is eligible for the hospice benefit?
A patient may be eligible if their prognosis is 6 months or less, if their condition continues on its natural course. If a patient’s prognosis improves, they can come off of hospice! In fact, they can come off of hospice at any time, if they choose!
Ultimately, we want to help patients get access to the highest level of care they are eligible for as quickly as possible!
Again, if you missed out on the Podcast last week, you can CLICK HERE to listen to it on iTunes, or CLICK HERE to watch it on YouTube. If you have questions about Hospice or Home Health Care, contact Kristen at Kristen.Mazzucco@HCR-ManorCare.org
Kristen Mazzucco is an Account Liaison for Heartland Home Health & Hospice. She is an Ohio Native and graduate of Wright State University. She has spent her entire professional career in the healthcare industry. She resides in Dublin with her husband and three kids. Most weekends you will find her on the sidelines, cheering on her kids while they play soccer!
Categories: Adam Koos, CFP®, CMT®, Educational Articles