Know the Difference: Hospice vs. Palliative Care

End-of-life care decisions can cause stress for families, especially when they are choosing what kind of care to provide, understanding which programs an individual is eligible for, and deciding when to administer medical aid.

Two types of care — palliative and hospice — provide support for patients nearing death.

While palliative and hospice are similar care methods, they differ in treatment, location, timing, and payment and program eligibility. The ultimate deciding factors for choosing which care to provide include the patient’s eligibility for end-of-life programs and whether the patient chooses curative treatment routes.

Here are the primary differences between hospice and palliative care to determine the best course of treatment for patients with serious illnesses.

Hospice Care

Treatment:

Hospice is comfort care without curative intent, which attempts to slow the disease process. In this situation, a treatment’s side effects could outweigh its benefits, or patients might have limited curative options. As a result, a patient can forego extensive life-prolonging treatment to concentrate on spending time with family while coping with the practical burdens of a serious illness.

Location:

Hospice care is normally administered at home by a family caregiver or hospice nurse, allowing for the most comfort possible.

Timing:

Reserved for terminally ill patients, hospice care services are administered when treatment is no longer curative during the last six months of life.

Payment and Eligibility:

While private insurance coverage for hospice varies, hospice programs cover almost all expenses, including subsidized care for patients in need of financial assistance. According to Vitas Healthcare, 100 percent of hospice care is paid for by Medicaid, Medicare, and private insurance; only the Medicare hospice benefit includes pharmaceuticals, medical equipment, 24/7 access to care, nursing, social services, grief support, and other resources.

Palliative Care

Treatment:

While most hospice programs concentrate on comfort rather than aggressive disease treatment, palliative care is a method of administering “comfort” care in addition to medical therapy. Palliative care may or may not include curative intent.

Location:

Palliative care is most commonly located in a hospital, extended care facility, or nursing home, which provides a medical environment to treat the patient’s illness.

Timing:

There is no time restriction for palliative care, because it is focused on relieving symptoms associated with the patient’s condition while the patient receives active treatment to extend his or her life.

Payment and Eligibility:

Because palliative care is provided through a hospital or medical provider, it is most likely covered by medical insurance. You also may be eligible for treatment and medication assistance through Medicaid or Medicare Part B insurance.

 

Knowing the differences between the types of care available will help relieve stress and get everyone involved in the care on the same page.