While hospice care typically lasts about six months, some patients may require it for longer periods. The main objective of hospice care is to offer comforting end-of-life services. Additionally, by alleviating certain symptoms and reducing anxiety, the patient’s life expectancy may improve.
It is important to note that qualification for hospice care requires the patient’s initial life expectancy to be six months or less. Therefore, the duration of hospice care will vary depending on the patient’s diagnosis and specific conditions. Ultimately, there is no definitive answer to how long people stay in hospice care.
Average hospice stay
According to recent studies, 90% of eligible patients pass away within the six-month hospice care time frame. Nevertheless, it has been found that receiving hospice care in the United States may significantly increase life expectancy. While numbers and averages can tell many stories, and doctors can predict how much more a patient will live, it depends on many factors.
According to the National Institute of Health, a majority of hospice patients pass away within a week of admission. This could be due to the fact that many patients are admitted to hospice during the advanced stages of their illness. That said, it is neither expected nor unheard of that a patient outlives the six-month time frame.
Medicare will cover hospice care for up to six months in two 90-day benefit periods if the patient is qualified. After that, it will cover an unlimited amount of 60-day benefit periods. To continue receiving coverage, a hospice doctor or provider must recertify that life expectancy is six months or less at the beginning of each benefit period.
Suppose a patient extends hospice care beyond the initial two benefit periods. In that case, it is mandatory to schedule a face-to-face consultation with a hospice doctor or nurse practitioner before each additional 60-day benefit period. However, no additional costs should be applied to your Medicare plan.
Living longer than expected for both patients and family members can be as challenging as the initial diagnoses. At Ascend Hospice Care, we have seen cases where patients increase their life expectancy due to better care and symptom management. In addition, more time can be invaluable to provide closure and peace of mind for loved ones.