If you think you are eligible for the Medicare hospice benefit, you should:
- Speak to your doctor about whether you meet the eligibility conditions for Medicare-covered hospice care.
- Ask your doctor to contact a Medicare-certified hospice on your behalf.
- Be persistent. There may be several Medicare-certified hospice agencies in your area. If the first one you contact is unable to help you, contact another.
You can find a hospice program by calling your State Hospice Agency through the Yellow Pages, the National Hospice Organization Helpline at 1-800-658-8898, or the Hospice Association of America at 202-546-4759. You also can locate agencies that serve older adults by calling the Eldercare Locator at 1-800-677-1116 or searching its web site. Visit these agencies web sites for more information using the links in the LINKS box.
Once you have found a Medicare-certified hospice:
- The hospice medical director (and your doctor if you have one) will certify your eligibility. You must sign a statement electing hospice care and waiving curative treatments for your terminal illness.
- The hospice team of providers must consult with you (and your provider if you wish) to develop a plan of care. The team includes a hospice doctor, a registered nurse, a social worker and a religious or other counselor.
Starting April, 1, 2011, you must have a face-to-face meeting with a hospice doctor or nurse practitioner if you reach your third benefit period. The third benefit period begins on day 180 of hospice. After that, you must continue to have face-to-face meetings with a hospice doctor or nurse practitioner before the start of each following 60-day benefit period. The meeting must take place no earlier than 30 days before the new benefit period to confirm you still qualify for hospice care.