How New York Senior Citizens Can Use Medicare to Pay for Hospice

by David Goldfarb

When families face difficult end-of-life decisions, costs are often the last thing they want to worry about. Unfortunately, costs present a real problem and often determine how people will spend their final days.

New York’s Medicare recipients must understand the coverage available to them for hospice care and other end-of-life services. These coverages can make more options available to people choosing how to spend the remainder of their lives. The experienced elder law attorneys at Goldfarb Abrandt Salzman & Kutzin can help your family understand the coverage and services available so they have the best possible information with which to make these difficult decisions.

Medicare Hospice Benefits

First, understand the limitations of Medicare’s hospice benefits. Medicare does not typically provide 24-hour, in-home nursing care. The expectation is that family members will work together to create an end-of-life care plan that incorporates certain limited in-home services. Medicare reports that these services will generally include physical care, counseling, medication, and medical equipment or supplies. Medicare helps “bridge the gap” of medical coverage by offering 24-hour phone access to hospice nurses and doctors. Another important limitation is the approval of services by the hospice team. Once a beneficiary chooses a hospice provider, Medicare will not generally cover medical services provided by other medical facilities. It will not cover hospital visits (inpatient or in the emergency room) unless the hospice team approves them or they are unrelated to the terminal illness.

So what is covered under Medicare hospice services? The end-of-life care plan can include consultations and treatments from a wide range of healthcare providers. These may include doctors, nurses and nursing assistants, counselors, social workers, pharmacists, physical therapists, speech therapists, occupational therapists, hospice aides, and volunteers. All of these team members will work together to provide palliative services.

Palliative services focus on the patient’s comfort. Because the disease is terminal, care does not focus on curing the underlying condition. Rather, it tries to relieve symptoms to make the patient as comfortable as possible.

Additional services may help family members with their caregiving efforts. For example, Medicare covers occasional “respite” stays in inpatient hospice facilities. Each approved stay can last as long as five days and allows family members a break from 24-hour caregiving.

Protect Your Medical Coverage With the Counsel of a New York Medicare Attorney

Don’t leave your healthcare to chance. Consult an experienced New York elder law attorney to ensure that you receive all applicable benefits available to you, that your claims are not denied, and you have the full extent of coverage to which you are entitled.

The elder law attorneys at Goldfarb Abrandt Salzman & Kutzin have decades of experience in ensuring that Medicare makes benefits available to those who qualify for them. We protect New York’s Medicare recipients by helping them access all coverage for which they are eligible. Call (212) 387-8400 today to schedule your consultation.