Myths / Q & A

Common Myths About Hospice

Hospice is only for the last few days or weeks
Hospice care is for people in the last stages of life, not just for people who are on the verge of death. To be eligible for Hospice services a patient must have a prognosis of six months or less to live. However it is much better to begin Hospice services as early as possible than to wait so long that the patient and family cannot fully benefit from the services available.

Hospice is expensive
Hospice care is paid for by Medicare, Medicaid, and private insurance. For patients with no insurance, there is a sliding fee scale which goes down to zero for those with family incomes less than 250% of the federal poverty level. Once enrolled in Hospice, all patients and families receive exactly the same services including medications, equipment such as an electric bed, wheelchair or oxygen, and the care from a team of professionals. No one will be turned away due to the lack of financial resources

A doctor has to make a referral to Hospice
Anyone can request a no-cost, no-obligation evaluation or information visit from Hospice, whether the patient resides in a private home or a care facility.

Hospice is only for people with cancer
While the Hospice movement began by serving people with cancer who wanted to die at home, it is no longer exclusively for cancer patients. Now over 55% of our patients do not have cancer, but other life-limiting conditions such as heart disease, lung diseases, dementia, or “debility,” which is simply old age.

Hospice Patients cannot see their own doctors
Not true. Patients receiving Hospice services continue to be cared for by their own doctor. Hospice coordinates care with the primary physician who continues to follow the patient.

Hospice hastens death
Some people think that patients receiving Hospice services die sooner than they would otherwise. This is not true. Hospice does nothing to hasten a person’s death or artificially prolong his life. However, a recent study of cancer and heart disease patients found that Hospice patients actually lived longer than those not receiving Hospice care.

People can only receive six months of Hospice care
Some people worry that if the patient lives longer than six months he or she will be kicked off of Hospice services. This never happens. As long as the patient’s prognosis doesn’t change and he or she continues to decline – however slowly – Hospice services continue. There is absolutely no penalty if a patient lives longer than six months.

Hospice is for people who have “given up”
When a patient enrolls in Hospice the goal of care is no longer a “cure”, but for the patient to live as fully as possible – free of pain or other symptoms – for the remaining time available. Hope changes from finding a cure to hope for a peaceful death, surrounded by loved ones.

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