Medicare benefits cover four levels of hospice care; routine home care, continuous home care, general inpatient care and respite care. Hospice coverage from private insurance plans typically match the levels of care defined by Medicare.

Every person and every family has unique needs for end-of-life care. Patients and their families may move in and out of each level of hospice service as their needs change.

Routine Home Care

Routine home care is for patients wanting to maintain the best possible quality of life at home. Routine care is provided in a person's private home, assisted living or nursing home. Support includes home medical equipment, medications, medical social services, spiritual support, volunteer visits, bereavement counseling and supplies related to the hospice diagnosis. Learn more about routine home care.

Respite Care

Hospice respite care enables a patient's caregiver to rest and recover from the demands of in-home care. Respite is also available when caregivers are traveling or attending an import event such a wedding or graduation.

Medicare pays for patient transport and up to five consecutive days of inpatient care at a Medicare-approved nursing facility or hospital. Respite care is not available when a hospice patient is living in a nursing facility. Learn more about hospice respite care.

Continuous Home Care

Sometimes, hospice patients need care at home when they experiencing a medical crisis. Medicare defines a crisis as a period of time when a patient requires a higher level of “continuous care” for at least 8 hours in a day to manage pain, breathing problems or other serious medical symptoms.

The goal is intensive support to enable patients and their families to return to stable and routine home care. This in-home care is typically provided by licensed nurses in close communication with a doctor and family members. Hospice aide or homemaking services can supplement nursing care.

General Inpatient Care

If a patient has medical needs that cannot be managed at home, the hospice benefit includes round-the-clock care at a hospital or inpatient hospice facility. Patients can remain as long as required to control their symptoms. Medicare covers the cost of transporting patients.