A 6 minute read
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October 24, 2017

Updated November 2019

Of all the options for long-term care, hospices offer a very specific type of palliative care.

Hospice care, unlike other varieties of long-term care, does not aim to cure a patient’s terminal illness. Caregivers instead focus on providing support for patients while treating their daily symptoms, making them as comfortable as possible when care providers have determined there is not much else left to do.

This type of care is also unique because hospice services are primarily provided in a patient’s home – though services can also be available in hospitals, nursing homes, and hospice centers. Most payors include hospice care in their insurance coverage, including Medicare, Medicaid, and health maintenance organizations (HMOs).

Top 10 Hospices by Medicare Payments

Rank

Hospice Name

Definitive ID

Total Medicare Pmts

Medicare Claims

1.

VITAS Hospice Office - Brevard

800223

$553,060,429

124,558

2.

Mid County Community Service Center

799359

$79,366,361

20,696

3.

Chapters Health - Lifepath Hospice South Tampa

799358

$77,867,948

19,826

4.

Cornerstone Hospice & Palliative Care - Lake County

799499

$77,473,302

21,450

5.

The Pepper Family Hospice Care Center

798990

$77,321,163

19,453

6.

Community Hospice of Northeast Florida

799951

$75,070,877

19,402

7.

Charles W Gerstenberg Hospice Center

799430

$72,732,451

18,212

8.

Visiting Nurse Service of New York Hospice Care

797883

$72,401,235

16,083

9.

Tidewell Hospice - Sarasota Hospice House

799438

$67,356,840

18,839

10.

Hospice of the Western Reserve Inc

799846

$65,688,695

17,225

Fig1 Data from Definitive Healthcare’s comprehensive platform on long-term care facilities.

Because hospice caregivers are largely operating in people’s homes, they work closely with patient’s family members to provide personalized care. Each patient has a unique care plan based on their needs for pain management and symptom relief.

The hospice team will consult with a patient’s primary care physician, hospice physicians, nurses, home health aides, and other specialists such as clergy or social workers if requested. Hospice staff make regular visits to a patient’s home and are on-call around the clock to ensure patient wellbeing.

Hospice care is usually equated with end-of-life care, though it is available to patients regardless of age or ability. Most patients receiving hospice care are expected to live for six months or less.

Hospice teams are equipped to provide a wide variety of services, such as pain and symptom management, as well as emotional support, provision of medication and medical equipment, occupational and speech therapy, and more. Hospice aides also provide support and education for a patient’s family members, including education on caregiving and bereavement counseling.

Though most hospice patients are only expected to live for around six months, hospice care can be provided for as long as a patient is affected by a life-limiting illness. One of the most common illnesses affecting hospice patients is cancer, but other common illnesses include heart disease, dementia, kidney failure, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

Top 10 Hospices by Medicare Claims

Rank

Hospice Name

Definitive ID

Total Medicare Pmts

Medicare Claims

1.

VITAS Hospice Office - Brevard

800223

$553,060,429

124,558

2.

Cornerstone Hospice & Palliative Care - Lake County

799499

$77,473,302

21,450

3.

Mid County Community Service Center

799359

$79,366,361

20,696

4.

Chapters Health - Lifepath Hospice South Tampa

799358

$77,867,948

19,826

5.

The Pepper Family Hospice Care Center

798990

$77,321,163

19,453

6.

Community Hospice of Northeast Florida Inc

799951

$75,070,877

19,402

7.

Tidewell Hospice - Sarasota Hospice House

799438

$67,356,840

18,839

8.

Charles W Gerstenberg Hospice Center

799430

$72,732,451

18,212

9.

Hospice of the Western Reserve Inc

799846

$65,688,695

17,225

10.

Avalon Hospice - Nashville

798827

$56,782,762

16,596

Fig 2 Data from Definitive Healthcare’s comprehensive platform on long-term care facilities.

Another unique aspect of hospice care is the impact on a patient’s family members. Many patients who receive hospice care have been previously cared for by their families. This can be burdensome for the family emotionally and financially, creating a strain on the relationship between the patient and their loved ones. Hospice care can ease or eliminate that tension, allowing families to enjoy what might be their limited time together.

Additionally, hospice care allows for a patient to receive care at a facility during their treatment. This gives familial caregivers the opportunity to rest without worrying about the wellbeing of their terminally ill family member. The patient can then continue receiving care in their own home, which is likely more comfortable than at a hospital or other healthcare center. Such an arrangement is commonly known as respite care.

At any time while receiving hospice care, a patient may be admitted to a hospital if their pain becomes overwhelming or if other issues arise. If desired, the patient may include spiritual or religious leaders on their hospice team to reduce the emotional burden of end-of-life care.

Trained hospice volunteers are also an option for the care team, and can offer companionship, transportation assistance, and other practical support. Hospice care is among the most flexible and customizable forms of long-term care.

Hospices and hospice corporations themselves can be proprietary or non-profit. They can also be affiliated with the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization, which ensures adherence to national laws and regulations. Hospice guidelines are also available on the CMS website.

Learn More

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