Does Medicare Pay For Hospice In A Skilled Nursing Facility?
Maximizing Medicare: Understanding Coverage for Hospice in Skilled Nursing Facilities
Do you or a loved one need hospice care in a skilled nursing facility? Understanding Medicare coverage for this essential service is crucial for maximizing benefits and ensuring quality end-of-life care. This article will explore some of the ins and outs of hospice coverage I didn’t know when my mother was in hospice. We discuss the question of whether Medicare pays for hospice in a skilled nursing facility.
Navigating the complex world of healthcare can be overwhelming, especially when faced with a difficult situation like imminent death like I experienced with my mother. That’s why I’m here to break it down for you. I’ll explain what hospice care entails, how it differs from other types of care, and, most importantly, what Medicare covers. With this information, you can be confident in your ability to advocate for yourself or your loved one and ensure that all available resources are utilized.
At Omaha Insurance Solutions, information is power regarding healthcare decisions. We aim to make complex topics accessible, providing you with the tools you need to confidently navigate the healthcare system. So, let’s dive in and discover how Medicare can support you during a challenging time.
What is Hospice Care & Who is Eligible?
Hospice care focuses on providing comfort and support to individuals in the final stages of a terminal illness. The goal is to improve the quality of life for patients by managing pain and symptoms while offering emotional and spiritual support to both the patient and their loved ones. Hospice care can be provided in various settings, including skilled nursing facilities.
To be eligible for hospice care, a person must have a life expectancy of six months or less, as certified by a physician. This certification is required for Medicare coverage, which we will discuss further in the following sections. It’s important to note that choosing hospice care does not mean giving up on treatment altogether. It means shifting the focus to comfort and quality of life rather than curative measures.
Hospice care is a holistic approach that addresses individuals’ physical, emotional, and spiritual needs nearing the end of life. It provides a compassionate and supportive environment where patients receive specialized care tailored to their unique needs. Now that we have a basic understanding of hospice care, let’s explore how it relates to skilled nursing facilities and the coverage provided by Medicare.
Understanding Skilled Nursing Facility Care and Medicare Coverage
Skilled nursing facilities (SNFs) are residential facilities that provide round-the-clock nursing care for individuals requiring more intensive medical attention than they could receive at home. SNFs are equipped with trained healthcare professionals, including nurses and therapists, who can address the complex needs of patients. SNF care is often required when individuals have conditions that require ongoing medical monitoring, such as chronic illnesses or post-surgical recovery. Medicare covers certain SNF services, including skilled nursing care, rehabilitation therapy, and medications. However, it’s important to note that not all services provided in a SNF are covered by Medicare, and this includes hospice care.
Medicare Coverage for Hospice in a Skilled Nursing Facility
Medicare provides coverage for hospice care in various settings, including inpatient hospice facilities, the patient’s home, or a skilled nursing facility. However, there are specific criteria that must be met in order for Medicare to pay for hospice care in a skilled nursing facility.
The criteria are the same as for hospice. Firstly, the individual must be eligible for Medicare Part A, which covers inpatient hospital stays, skilled nursing facility care, and hospice care. Secondly, the hospice care must be certified by a Medicare-approved hospice provider. Thirdly, the individual must have a life expectancy of six months or less, as certified by a physician. Lastly, individuals must agree to forgo curative treatments for their terminal illness and receive only palliative care.
The SNF is not primarily providing hospice care. A hospice team coordinates with the SNF to provide the service in the SNF. The location of the hospice care is secondary. The SNF is a location, like the home.
However, there must be a Medicare-covered reason or treatment to be granted admittance to a skilled nursing facility. The SNF is primarily a medical facility for patients to get better. It is not a hospice facility providing room and board, housekeeping, bathroom transfers, etc.
Medicare Hospice Benefits for My Mom
The doctors diagnosed my mother with ovarian cancer in 2012. I was living in Kansas at the time. I wasn’t able to go on doctor visits with her. My brother, Paul, was taking care of my mom. I would get information about her situation, but it was spotty.
My mother was an ‘I’m in charge’ type of person. Phyllis determined the flow of information, and it was sparse.
Talking with your mother about her health when her mortality is so tightly fixed to it is hard. Looking back now, I was a chicken. Who wants to talk about saying goodbye? I didn’t realize the seriousness of her health situation until much later. I assumed she didn’t speak about her own death, and I didn’t know how to initiate the conversation. We were all in different forms of denial.
At the end of 2012, the doctors said there was nothing more to be done. I don’t think I fully grasped what that meant at the time. I also did not anticipate how quickly time would slip away from that moment onward. I’m sure my mother was scared, but she didn’t let on. I stupidly didn’t realize the magnitude of the moment and how she was probably feeling. My own feelings and denial fogged the situation.
My mother was admitted to hospice care (Medicare Hospice Benefits Booklet).
Mom’s Terminal Illness
Nature, in its less than glorious side, took its course rapidly. My mother’s health deteriorated in a few short weeks.
Cancer is a painful disease. The healthcare personnel gave her various painkillers, but even as they did so, we all insanely talked about not wishing to cause addiction. The pain had its own mind.
At various times, my mother’s suffering would be such that she needed to go to the hospital. There, the doctors administered intravenous medications that were faster acting and stabilized her pain level.
During the last visit, it became clear that we could not care for her at home. My father, John Grimmond–who would pass away six months later–was not physically able to care for our mother. I was in Kansas, my other brother, Tom, was in Sioux Falls, and Paul was in Omaha but busy with his career and family.
My mother needed around-the-clock care. We asked, ‘Does Medicare pay for hospice in a skilled nursing facility?’ The real question was whether Medicare would pay for a skilled nursing facility while my mother died. Strictly speaking, Medicare does not pay for custodial care. Custodial care is bathing, feeding, toileting, etc. Medicare doesn’t cover room and board if you get hospice care while in a nursing home or a hospice inpatient facility. That is out of your pocket.
Qualifying for Skilled Nursing Facility Care while on Hospice
The staff at the hospital initially told us that our mother needed to go to a skilled nursing facility (SNF) because they recognized she required more care than we could provide. They informed us that Medicare would provide and pay for hospice care in the Skilled Nursing Facility, but the cost of room and board and custodial nursing care would not be covered, and they were correct. Medicare coverage for skilled nursing when you are in hospice is tricky.
The fortunate occurrence, however, was the intravenous nature of my mother’s painkillers. Other than a hospital, you can only receive intravenous medication treatment in a skilled nursing facility. The nature of my mom’s treatment triggered a reason Medicare would accept her being admitted to a skilled nursing facility and pay for it.
Medicare does cover skilled nursing care after a qualifying hospital stay of 3-days or more. Intravenous medication administration also requires a skilled nursing facility. A home health care nurse showing up several times at home would not be adequate. Also, my mother needed physical therapy to improve her strength after the reaction to the pain. From Medicare Part A and Part B, there were sufficient reasons for Medicare to pay for her stay in the skilled nursing facility (SNF) while she was in hospice.
Does Medicare Pay For Skilled Nursing Care During Hospice?
Strictly speaking, Medicare does not pay for skilled nursing care because someone is in hospice, but other triggering events often cause Medicare to cover skilled nursing care.
For example, someone who is in hospice falls and breaks a hip. That situation would justify skilled nursing care. A person develops an infection or pneumonia that results in hospitalization. Then, they qualify for a skilled nursing stay.
How to Navigate the Medicare Coverage Process for Hospice in a Skilled Nursing Facility
Navigating the Medicare coverage process for hospice care in a SNF can be complex, but it can be made easier with the correct information and guidance. Here are some steps to help you navigate the process:
1. The first step is to consult with the individual’s physician to determine if they meet the eligibility criteria for hospice care in a SNF. The physician can provide the necessary certification and guidance through the process. He knows the triggering circumstances that justify a skilled nursing facility stay.
2. It’s important to choose a Medicare-approved hospice provider with experience providing SNF care. They will be able to guide you through the necessary paperwork and ensure that all requirements are met. The health professionals are very familiar with Medicare’s billing codes and protocols for admittance to a SNF.
3. If the individual is already receiving care in a SNF, it’s important to coordinate with the facility to ensure a smooth transition to hospice care. The SNF staff can provide valuable information and support during this process.
4. Familiarize yourself with Medicare’s costs and coverage for hospice care in a SNF. This will help you plan and make informed decisions regarding the individual’s care.
The professionals you deal with know the Medicare rules and the subtleties of maximizing coverage in different circumstances. Listen attentively to their guidance.
Common Misconceptions about Medicare Coverage of SNF During Hospice
Several common misconceptions exist about Medicare coverage for hospice care in a SNF. Let’s address some of these misconceptions and provide clarity:
1. Medicare only covers hospice care in certain settings: Medicare provides coverage for hospice care in various settings, including inpatient hospice facilities, the patient’s home, and skilled nursing facilities. As long as the eligibility criteria are met, Medicare will cover hospice care in a SNF.
2. Medicare covers room and board in a SNF. As a rule, Medicare does not cover room and board in a SNF because the individual is receiving hospice care, though room and board may be covered because the patient is in the SNF for reasons other than hospice.
3. Medicare coverage for hospice care is limited to specific conditions: Medicare coverage for hospice care is not limited to specific conditions or illnesses. As long as the eligibility criteria are met, Medicare will provide coverage for hospice care in a SNF for any terminal illness.
4. Medicare coverage for hospice care is limited to a certain time frame: Medicare does not limit the duration of hospice care coverage in a SNF. As long as the individual meets the eligibility criteria, Medicare will continue to cover the necessary services.
Bottomline: Ensuring Quality Care and Coverage for Hospice in a SNF through Medicare
Maximizing Medicare coverage for hospice care in a skilled nursing facility is essential for ensuring quality end-of-life care. By understanding the eligibility criteria, coverage details, and navigating the Medicare system, you can advocate for yourself or your loved one and ensure all available resources are utilized.
Remember, hospice care is a compassionate and holistic approach that focuses on providing comfort and support during the final stages of a terminal illness. Medicare provides coverage for hospice care in a SNF, including room and board, medications, and necessary medical equipment. By staying informed and proactive, you can maximize Medicare coverage and ensure that the individual receives the care they need.
Burying a mother is one of those milestone events in our lives. While dealing with all the emotional, spiritual, and financial challenges that accompanied that moment, health care cost was not a burden to my family and me. Medicare and my mother’s Medicare plan took excellent care of her and us. I am grateful for the wonderful program and the insurance that worked with Medicare.
The Bottomline: Benefit Knowledge Makes for Maximum Benefits
At Omaha Insurance Solutions, we understand the importance of access to accurate and reliable information regarding healthcare
decisions. We aim to empower you with the knowledge and resources to navigate the complex world of Medicare coverage. It is important to know that Medicare pays for hospice care in a skilled nursing facility.
By maximizing benefits and ensuring quality care, we can make a difference in the lives of individuals and their loved ones during this challenging time. Call us at 402-614-3389 to ensure you have a Medicare plan protecting you and your loved ones. Speak with an experienced licensed insurance agent profession.