Hospice Care Vs. Palliative Care

Palliative care is a type of treatment for patients with serious illnesses. A recognized medical specialty since 2006, it is also called comfort care. The goal is to improve the quality of life for both the patient as well as the family. Most common diagnosis’s for palliative care include serious illness, chronic or pulmonary disorders, renal disease, chronic heart failure, HIV/AIDs, progressive neurological conditions, cancer and more.

Vitas Health care describes palliative care with the following, “as you go through chemotherapy, which is prescribed to cure cancer, your physician also addresses your nausea, depression or anxiety by prescribing a drug, directing you to talk to a therapist or arranging for pet visits. If your family is stressed, a social worker or chaplain would provide support. All of these coping mechanisms are considered palliative: they improve the quality of your life while you and your physician cope with your cancer.”

While hospice care is similar to palliative care, there are some important differences, first and foremost being cost. More than 90% of hospice care is paid for through insurance, but in order for it to be covered, it must be meet certain Medicare requirements, which palliative care patients do not. The end goal and objective of both treatment plans is pain and symptom relief, but the care plans tend to differ. Hospice is comfort care without the intent to cure. The patient is facing an end-of-life situation. Palliative care is comfort care as well, but it doesn’t have to be with or without a tent to cure.

Palliative care is the best option when a patient has an inability or limited ability to take care of themselves, they have received a form of curative treatment, but they aren’t benefitting from it and the physician feels like no further treatment would be effective but the patient doesn’t need to be terminal. To be eligible for hospice, at least two physicians must attest that the patient has less than six months to live with the current prognosis.

Hospice and palliative care address physical, emotional, and spiritual pain such as losing ones independence, family well- being, and feeling like a burden to loved ones. Vitas Healthcare explains, “Hospice is paid 100 percent by Medicare, Medicaid and private insurance; it is the only Medicare benefit that includes pharmaceuticals, medical equipment, 24/7 access to care, nursing, social services, chaplain visits, grief support following a death and other services deemed appropriate by the hospice agency. Whereas palliative care, from office visits to prescription charges, is paid for by insurance, by the patient or by charity.”

If you feel like either of these options are necessary for you or a loved one, please contact Assured Hospice Care or your physician about which options might be right for you.