30 Questions and 5 Answers regarding hospice care services

There are questions caregivers ask themselves about hospice care; here are some of those questions along with their respective answers. Additionally, once the caregiver has decided that hospice care is the best option for their loved one, there are further questions that should be asked when shopping around for hospice services.

About hospice care



1.       Is it only for cancer patients?

Hospice care is for patients who have life-threatening conditions, who do not benefit from curative treatment anymore, and who are expected to live 6 months or less. That includes but is not limited to cancer patients.

2.       How does someone qualify for it?

A person with the requirements mentioned above qualifies for hospice care. A healthcare provider can establish how long the patient has to live.

3.       How much does it cost?

Medicare or Medicaid Hospice Benefit as well as private insurance may cover hospice care services for some patients. There may be co-pays and deductibles that according to the specific healthcare program. Many hospice programs rely on donations to offer services to patients without healthcare. Each program has its own polices about payment and you would have to discuss your particular situation with them.

4.       What about hospice care outside the home?

Most patients receive cared from relatives and pass away in their homes. But hospice care may also be provided in freestanding hospice facilities, hospitals, nursing homes, and other long-term care facilities. Learn more about hospice facilities in your community, from local healthcare professionals or from the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization (NHPCO).

5.       Who decides how much medical treatment is enough?

The patient generally decides what treatment they want based on their doctor’s recommendation. A plan of care is developed for the patient and family together with the physician and the hospice team.


Questions to ask when choosing a hospice service

6.       Is the agency nationally recognized and accredited?

7.       Is the program certified by Medicare or Medicaid?

8.       Does your state require hospice licensing? If so, is the agency licensed?

9.       Is there written documentation regarding eligibility requirements, financial aspects, employee jobs, liability insurance, and general services?

10.   Will the agency provide references from other healthcare organizations?

11.   Is the hospice service in good standing with the Better Business Bureau or State Attorney General’s office?

12.   How flexible is the hospice service in negotiating patient differences?

13.   Does the agency work with the family to create a professional plan of care for each patient? If so, will the service provide you with a copy of this plan?

14.   Is this plan updated periodically or only if it needs be?

15.   Does the hospice require a primary caregiver?

16.   Will the hospice work with the caregiver to cover job schedules, travel plans, or other responsibilities?

17.   Does the service assess patients to determine their needs?

18.   Does the service consider the level of independence of the patient?

19.   How many personnel references does the agency require?

20.   Is the hospice staff licensed and bonded?

21.   Does the agency have a routine way of handling complaints?

22.   How does the agency handle billing?

23.   Will the agency help find financial help?

24.   Are there payment plans available?

25.   Does the agency have a 24 hour on-call service?

26.   Did the hospice inform you of the patient’s rights and responsibilities?

27.   How soon do hospice services begin?

28.   What specialized services are there available?

29.   What are the policies concerning residential admission or inpatient care?

30.   What hospitals work closely with the residential facilities?

Related: 42 More questions to ask at an assisted living facility