Surprising Truths Within Hospice Care

By  Attorney Rick Law, Managing Partner at the Estate Planning Center of Law Elder Law in the Western Chicago suburb of Aurora, IL.

Carolyn Peterson is an RN who has worked as a nurse for 43 years. Seventeen years ago, she began to focus exclusively in the area of hospice care. She works for an organization that provides care for the dying and incurably ill.  I recently talked with Carolyn about hospice care and found out some surprising truths that most people don’t know.

Q: RNs have the capability of working in almost any area of medical care. What attracts you and keeps you working with hospice?

A: I think it’s the humanity of the work. RNs enter a person’s life at a time when the rest of the medical community seems to have abandoned them. When people get to the point in their illness where it can’t be fixed, a lot of the medical community kind of give up on them. Many times when nurses first meet a patient or family, they might be the first one to have explained what’s going on in terms of their disease and that, truthfully, there is no more treatment available except hospice. It takes quite a bit of finesse and compassion, and when a nurse has these conversations there are no do-overs.

Q: Would you explain about the composition of a hospice team?

A: Medicare dictates who must be a part of the interdisciplinary hospice team. The top person is the medical director, who is an employee of the hospice and must be a doctor who is board certified in hospice and palliative care (relieving and preventing suffering). There must be a nurse case manager, a non-denominational chaplain, and a social worker.

Q: In a typical month, how many different patients or clients are cared for by a team?

A: Many hospice teams service 12 to 13 new families per month.

Q: What are the typical services that one could expect to find provided by a hospice on a per-day basis, and who pays for it?

A: Medicare Part A pays for hospice care at 100 percent. It does not require any supplemental insurance, because the Medicare hospice benefit covers it. Medicare provides for four different levels of hospice care. Some companies provide all four levels of care even though two of the levels can be financially risky (not profitable). Medicare reimbursement is fixed at a maximum dollar amount, regardless of the level of care provided by a hospice.

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Rick L. Law, Attorney, Estate Planner for Retirees.

Rick was named the #1 Illinois elder law estate planning attorney by Leading Lawyer Magazine. He has been quoted in the Wall Street Journal, AARP Magazine,, and numerous newspapers and articles. Rick is the lead attorney for Law Elder Law, LLP, focusing in Estate Planning, Guardianship, and Nursing Home Solutions. His goal is to give retirees an informed edge when it comes to dealing with an uncertain future.  Get flexible retirement strategies that work during good times and bad, plus information on how you can save your home and assets from being used to pay for long term care.   Call 800-310-3100 for your free consultation now!

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