Who is Eligible for Hospice Care?
Patients who wish to receive hospice care through Medicare must meet certain criteria in order to qualify. According to Medicare, patients must meet all the following conditions:
- Your hospice doctor and your regular doctor (if you have one) certify that you’re terminally ill (you're expected to live 6 months or less).
- You accept palliative care (for comfort) instead of care to cure your illness.
- You sign a statement choosing hospice care instead of other Medicare-covered treatments for your terminal illness and related conditions
The patient’s doctor or hospice medical director are the only ones who can certify they are terminally ill and have a life expectancy of 6 months or less. This six month stipulation doesn’t mean patients can only receive six months of hospice care. Patients can be recertified as many times as they need by their doctor, provided the doctor feels the patient still has another six months or less to live.
Hospice eligibility is not limited to a specific set of illnesses. Patients can receive care for any single or combination of terminal illnesses. There are also no set parameters for age as well. While most hospice patients are elderly, this benefit is also available to patients of any age.