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Clear answers to your Hospice questions

What is hospice?

Hospice is an approach to care that seeks to comfort rather than cure. Hospice offers comprehensive, compassionate care for people at the end of life as well as support for their families. There are more than 3,000 hospice programs across the country and more than 100 in Michigan. Read more about the Hospice of Michigan care teams.

Who can receive hospice care?

Any person facing the advancing stages of a serious illness is eligible for palliative care. Hospice care is appropriate when the following conditions are met:

  • The physician believes that the patient will live six months or less if the disease runs its normal course
  • Aggressive treatments are not working or providing relief
  • The patient, family and physician agree and understand that the focus of hospice care is on comfort (pain control and symptom management), not on finding a cure

All U.S. citizens age 65 and older are entitled to Medicare or Medicaid coverage for hospice at the end of life.

Where is hospice care provided?

Hospice is a philosophy of care, not a place. Most hospice patients receive care in their home or the home of a loved one or friend. Care can also be provided in many long-term care facilities, assisted living facilities, hospitals or nursing homes. Some hospices have residential units designed to provide a home-like setting where hospice is provided.

When is hospice appropriate?

Hospice care is appropriate when treatments are no longer effective and the burden of the disease or condition becomes too much to bear for the patient and family. Our goal is to provide relief from physical and emotional pain so that patients and loved ones can get the very most out of their remaining days.

Who can refer a patient for hospice care?

Anyone can refer a friend or loved one to hospice. While medical professionals often refer their patients, it’s not a requirement. If you would like to refer a patient, you can get started here.

What if my doctor does not mention hospice?

The patient and family should feel free to discuss hospice care at any time with their physician, other health care professionals, clergy, or friends. Everyone is urged to prepare Advance Directives that spell out the type of care we want to receive at the end of life.

HaveYouHadTheTalk.com is an easy way to eliminate the guesswork and get those who are dying to discuss how they would like their final wishes fulfilled.

What if a patient gets better?

If the patient’s condition improves, he or she can be discharged from hospice and return to clinical treatment or resume daily life. If the patient should later need to return to hospice care, Medicare or Medicaid and most insurance programs allow additional coverage.

How does the admission process work?

When a patient is ready to receive hospice care, we call the patient’s physician to make sure he or she agrees that hospice care is appropriate for this patient. The patient will be asked to sign a consent form confirming that the patient understands that hospice care is palliative, that is, aimed at comfort and pain relief, rather than a cure.

What makes Hospice of Michigan unique?

Two things. 1.) We’re a non-profit. This frees us to focus entirely on the care of our patients and families—no matter their age, diagnosis, or ability to pay. Simply put, we put people first, always. 2.) We’re innovators. Through research, education and new approaches, The Hospice of Michigan Institute is leading the way for end-of-life care in Michigan and throughout the country.

What does it cost?

Hospice care is covered by most insurers, including Medicare, Medicaid, Blue Cross/Blue Shield and most commercial insurers and HMOs. Hospice is a covered benefit under Medicare for people who have a life expectancy of six months or less. Medicare will pay 100% of all hospice team services, medications, durable medical equipment, and medical supplies related to the terminal illness and/or prognosis. Room and board costs in a facility are considered custodial care and are not covered under the Medicare hospice benefit.  Occasionally, other insurers will cover room and board costs. For non-Medicare patients, any applicable patient pays, spend-downs, co-pays, or deductibles will apply.

However, Hospice of Michigan accepts everyone who needs and seeks our services regardless of your ability to pay, and we are always willing to work with our patients and families to insure there is open access to our program.

Where can I get more information about hospice?

We recommend: The National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization, National Hospice Foundation, American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine and Last Acts. And, of course, you can call Hospice of Michigan, any time, day or night: 888-247-5701.


Get the support you need

The fact is loved ones need as much support as those who are dying. Multiple studies have documented the emotional and physical toll of caring for someone nearing the end of life.

Find a Grief Support Group near you >
Download our free support kit >
The importance of Advance Directives >
Financial Affairs at the End of Life Booklet >
Additional tips >


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