When is the best time to call hospice?
The decision to have hospice services is a personal one. The time to call hospice is when you start to have questions about the care we provide. Often times patients and families wish they had reached out for support sooner, so most agencies are eager to provide education to the community. Patients deserve to know the hospice benefit exists (as part of Medicare) and is available to for those considering it and who qualify.
Where is “hospice”? Is it a place? Facility? Hospice house?
A common misconception is that hospice is a “place.” It’s actually a philosophy of care. The hospice is wherever the patient calls home. Staff visits patients in the surroundings of where they live; a private residence, a group home, a facility, or an agreed upon location. While agencies do contract with Hospice Inpatient Units, the majority of patients are served in the privacy of their own home.
Does Allegiant Hospice have an inpatient facility?
Per Medicare regulation, all hospices must have or work with an inpatient facility to provide certain levels of care. Very large hospice programs typically own freestanding units in-house, but the majority of providers contract with local facilites for the same level of care. The Medicare Conditions of Participation require that all facilities, whether owned by the hospice or contracted by the hospice, must be a “home-like setting”, be Medicare-certified and have a Registered Nurse on the property 24 hours per day, 7 days per week. Allegiant Hospice contracts with multiple facilites throughout Maricopa and Pinal County. Greater access to facilities, without the pressure of filling our own, means patients are able to choose a facility closer to family and loved ones.
Will I be moved to the inpatient facility in my final days?
Facility based care is never a requirement for hospice. Most hospices, Allegiant included, would rather have patients remain in their own homes and be comfortable in their own surroundings.
Does a larger hospice program mean that it’s a better one?
The larger the program, the greater the overhead and more often than not it exposes patients to a “corporate culture.” The size of the hospice, and the number of patients the hospice serves, is strictly your preference. Allegiant Hospice prefers to run a smaller, local “boutique” program so that we always remain focused on your care. Our smaller operation allows us to offer patients a much more consistent staff.
Isn’t there only one hospice? Are all hospices owned by the same program?
Hospices can be organized in many different ways. Some hospices are locally owned (Allegiant Hospice) while others are owned by national companies, corporate management firms/holding companies, health care franchises, or foundations. Each is reimbursed the same amounts set by Medicare, calculated based on geographical location/wage index. No matter how the agency is organized, each must follow the same rules that Medicare has established (Conditions of Participation, COPs) for hospice care. All hospices within a certain region are not necessarily “chapters” of a larger entity, with the exception of corporate-run locations, usually bearing the same name.
Can I choose any hospice? Do I have to use the one I was told to use by the hospital or other provider?
As a Medicare beneficiary you have the unconditional right to choose your own hospice provider. While some agencies use strong-arm tactics and corporate marketing confusion, the choice of Hospice provider is entirely up to the patient. Patients should treat the decision as they would any other major decision. Ask questions, seek recommendations from family and friends, interview different agencies and decide which agency is a good fit. We’d be happy to answer any questions you have, as well as provide a no-pressure evaluation to help you make the best decision possible. Your decision isn’t set in stone either, you’re free to transfer or revoke service at any time.
I’m being told to transfer or revoke my benefit? Do I have to comply even if I don’t want to? Can the Hospice program “revoke” my benefit?
The decision to transfer services from one hospice to another always belongs to the patient. True to the meaning of the word “revoke” only the patient can decide to revoke his/her hospice benefit. This is a common area of confusion for inexperienced agencies and Medicare takes revocation very seriously as it closely relates to Medicare billing. Under limited circumstances, Agencies can discharge a patient from service, but never can an agency unilaterally “revoke” the hospice benefit from a patient.
Do non-profit hospices provide more care or comfort than for-profit hospices?
When hospices choose to provide Medicare services, all hospices agree to follow the Conditions of Participation, e.g. regulations relating to operations and care. Non-profit and for-profit status in healthcare has more to do with financials and less to do with patient care. All providers follow the same regulations and all providers are surveyed by the same agencies, regardless of tax structure.
If I sign up with hospice, will I lose my Medicare coverage?
The hospice benefit is covered under Medicare Part A and is designed to provide care and services that are related to the terminal hospice diagnosis. If certain healthcare services are needed and they are not related to the hospice diagnosis, Medicare remains in place. At all times the patient reserves the right to end Hospice services and choose to resume standard Medicare coverage.