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Palliative Care vs Hospice Care

What’s the Difference Between Palliative Care and Hospice Care?

April 13, 2023 Posted in: Health & Wellness  5 minute read time

What is Palliative Care?

Palliative care is offered to patients who are at any stage of a disease as extra support to the form of treatment they may be receiving. Care teams that specialize in palliative care are focused on improving the quality of life for both the patient and family or friends involved.

This type of care helps alleviate and manage a variety of symptoms through a patient’s treatment such as pain, fatigue, constipation, and depression.

Schedule an initial palliative care appointment.

What is Hospice Care?

Hospice care is offered to patients with a serious illness who are approaching the end of their life. Doctors will only recommend this type of care to patients with a prognosis of 6 months or less. Since there is a mutual understanding between the patient and the hospice care team that the patient’s illness no longer responds to medical treatment, this type of care does not focus on “curing” said patient or providing alternate treatment options.

Similar to palliative care, hospice care will still focus on pain management, emotional support, and stress alleviation for both the patient and patient’s loved ones for the duration of their life expectancy.

Schedule an initial hospice appointment.

Differences Between Palliative Care and Hospice Care

Palliative Care

Who is Eligible?

Any person with a serious or chronic illness that is affected in the following ways is eligible for palliative care:

  • Their illness requires ongoing care
  • Their illness requires pain management
  • They struggle to emotionally cope with their illness
  • They struggle to understand their illness fully
  • They struggle with uncontrollable physical pain
  • They have specific requests on how they would like to receive care

What Services are Provided?

Under a palliative care team, the following types of services are typically provided:

  • Comfort
  • Stress management
  • Physical relief
  • Symptom relief
  • Psychosocial relief

What is the Goal?

The goal of palliative care is to minimize any pain, stress, or physical and emotional discomfort for the patient. By working closely with the patient and surrounding loved ones, a care team is able to carefully abide by the patient's preferences in order to improve the life for both the patient and their loved ones for the duration of treatment.

Where is Care Administered?

Unlike hospice care, palliative care is typically administered within a hospital setting at the same time as the patient’s curative treatment. A palliative care team can be comprised of specialized doctors, nurses, social workers, or nutritionists. The composition of a care team is dependent upon the patient’s specific areas of need to make them more comfortable.

How Much Will it Cost?

Palliative care costs are paid for by the patient’s insurance or out of pocket. Pricing for this type of care will be dependent on the patient’s form of insurance. Since this type of care includes more selective services, it is not covered by Medicare or Medicaid.

How Long Does Treatment Last?

Although palliative care is typically administered in conjunction with curative treatment, it can also be utilized at any point in life for any desired duration. Some patients may opt to start receiving care immediately after a diagnosis while others request to utilize palliative  care further along in their curative treatment.

What are the Benefits?

Since the goal of palliative care is to “palliate” various symptoms or circumstances surrounding a patient’s condition, most find this type of treatment extremely beneficial. If financially able, palliative care is a terrific option for patients who want to supplement medical treatment with well rounded care that supports both the body and the mind.

Hospice Care

Who is Eligible?

Hospice care is designated for any person with a serious illness who may be approaching the end of life. The difference between palliative care and hospice care is that doctors will only recommend this type of care to patients who have a prognosis of 6 months or less. Patients who opt out of further treatment or are not provided with any further treatment options may be recommended hospice care.

What Services are Provided?

Similar to palliative care, hospice care is meant to improve the quality of the patient’s life, focusing on both physical and emotional support. However, services provided will be limited to symptom relief, pain management, and stress alleviation. Hospice care professionals, as well as the patient, understand that no treatment or medication is able to be given in order to cure or improve a patient’s condition.

What is the Goal?

While the severity of an illness is understood by both the patient and hospice care team, the purpose of the care is to provide comfort, relief, and emotional support for the duration of the prognosis. 

Where is Care Administered?

There are a few different options available for hospice care. It can be administered anywhere from a hospital or a nursing home to someone’s private residence. Loved ones can discuss these options with the patient’s doctor before choosing a designated care site.

How Much Will it Cost?

Unlike palliative care, hospice can usually be covered by Medicare or Medicaid.

How Long Does Treatment Last?

Hospice care can be provided for the entire duration of a patient’s life expectancy.

What are the Benefits?

Most patients and loved ones of patients find that hospice care can tremendously reduce the amount of physical or emotional discomfort during the patient’s life expectancy. Having this kind of care not only supports the patient but the loved ones involved as well.

Medicare for Palliative Care vs Hospice Care

Palliative Care

If eligible, a patient’s palliative care can be covered by either original Medicare or Medicare Advantage. Medicare can cover the following (including hospice care if needed):

  • Inpatient hospital stays
  • Short term stays
  • Limited home healthcare

Hospice Care

Around 86% of hospice care is typically covered by the Medicare Hospice Benefit. Under this type of coverage, a patient can receive services such as medical professional visits, therapies, and supplies. Other services include:

  • Medication
  • Respite Care
  • Continuous Care
  • Inpatient Care
  • Routine Home Care
  • Bereavement Support

Private Insurance for Palliative Care vs Hospice Care

Palliative Care

If a patient is not covered by Medicare, palliative care can be covered by private insurance. Patients will need to speak with their insurance provider to determine options.

Hospice Care

If a patient is not covered by Medicare, hospice is typically covered by private insurance or an HMO. Hospice care institutes will have financial specialists on staff to help families who  are not eligible for financial assistance. 

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