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How is hospice care paid for?

Patients with a terminal illness do not usually have to pay for hospice care.

Hospice care costs are covered by Medicare (through the Medicare Hospice Benefit), Medicaid (in most states), and The Veteran's Health Administration

Medicare and Medicaid

Currently, most hospice patients have their costs covered by Medicare, through the Medicare Hospice Benefit. Learn more about the Medicare Hospice Benefit.

Medicaid also pays for hospice care in most states. People become eligible for Medicaid when their income and assets are low.

Medicaid provides benefits that are very similar to the Medicare Hospice Benefits.

Veterans' Benefits

The Veteran's Health Administration also covers hospice care. If you think you may be eligible, you can read further information for veteran's benefits.

The Veteran's Health Administration provides benefits that are very similar to the Medicare Hospice Benefits.

Health Insurance

Many private insurance companies provide some coverage for hospice care. Check with your insurer to determine whether hospice care is covered and under what circumstances. Among private insurers, there are variations in qualifications and covered benefits.

Individuals who do not have insurance

If you do not have insurance coverage and cannot otherwise afford the service, a hospice may provide care free of charge or on a sliding scale basis.

This financial assistance is provided through donations, gifts, grants or other community sources. Call your local hospices to learn if they are able and willing to offer care for free or reduced cost in your case. View our contact information for hospices in your area.

Whether a patient is eligible for hospice benefits may vary depending on who is covering the cost of care. Currently, most hospice care in the US is covered by the Medicare Hospice Benefit, which requires:

  • patients to be diagnosed with a terminal illness, and
  • be 65 years or older, and
  • have the patient’s doctor and a hospice medical director certify that the patient has six months or less to live.

Many other hospice benefit programs follow these same guidelines set by Medicare.