Hospice. A word still many people in the United States cringe when they hear it spoken. As a world traveler and a professional in the hospice industry for quite a while, I am heartbroken to see some of the reactions to such a beautiful gift. It seems that other parts of the globe are more receptive to end of life care and have many discussions about it. As US citizens we don’t discuss death in day to day conversations, almost as if we are keeping ourselves from some sort of secret that we aren’t going to live forever. Yet many of us set up our financial documents, estates, etc. early on because we don’t want someone else to take the money we have worked so hard to get. With that in mind, it brings up a topic not many people think about when talking about hospice and it’s benefits….
What are the financial benefits of hospice?
One huge benefit to patients and families is letting go of the burden of high cost prescription medications and costly treatments. Once a patient meets criteria for admission, the hospice benefit will pay for all medications related to the admitting diagnosis.
For example, many Congestive Heart Failure treatments and medications can be very expensive. It also can be costly for the hospice organization in the caring for CHF patients, but the hospice team are experts in pain management knowing there are less costly treatments they can provide, keeping the patient comfortable all while keeping the overall cost of care down. A link to an NHPCO (National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization) article is provided below comparing Heart Failure and costs of treatment. Hospice is also under utilized in end of life care for HF patients, as the article in the Journal of Pain and Symptom Management explains.
Another savings is all durable medical equipment needed by the patient is paid for under the hospice benefit. This would include hospital beds, air mattresses, wheel chairs, oxygen, etc.
Each hospice contracts with durable medical equipment companies and pay daily rental rates for the equipment. This is a huge cost savings for patients and families needing special equipment to keep their loved one comfortable.
The most cost saving benefit of hospice is time. And not that you can put a price on it, but if you could, what is time worth to you? Hospice allows you quality time to spend with your loved one without burden. Social workers take care of funeral plans, paperwork, linkage to resources, etc. They also help with any psycho-social needs of family member or close friends in conjunction with team chaplains. The time the whole team spends overall (including visits from nurses, aides, volunteers) allow you time to be a son, daughter, mother, father, husband, wife, and even friend with those we care so much for and ultimately don’t want to say goodbye to, but inevitably do…..
The financial benefit of hospice is one of many great reasons is such a wonderful gift to us all.
Jason Hill is a Community Liaison at Tridia Hospice and guest blogger at AlerStallings. You can follow him on LinkedIn.