Inside the Hospice Industry

Hospice care focuses on quality at the end of life, providing humane and compassionate care for people in the last phases of an incurable disease so that they may live as comfortably as possible. It provides patients with supportive or palliative care, which is treatment to help relieve symptoms caused by serious illness – things such as nausea, pain, fatigue, or shortness of breath – but it does not cure the disease.

Although hospice care is typically associated with cancer patients, today more than half of hospice patients have other illnesses for which they are medically eligible for hospice services, such as late-stage heart, lung or kidney disease, and advanced Alzheimer’s disease or dementia. In addition, hospice, once exclusively for adults, has many hospice programs today that accept children.

There are an estimated 4,000 hospice care agencies in the U.S., according to the most recent statistics in 2014 by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), with more than 1.3 million patients receiving hospice care in 2013. Hospice providers can be freestanding facilities, or part of a hospital, home health care agency, residential facilities, and nursing homes.

Medicare Part A usually covers hospice care as long as the following conditions are met: the hospice doctor and regular doctor or nurse practitioner certify that the patient is terminally ill (he or she is expected to live 6 months or less); the patient accepts palliative care (for comfort) instead of care to cure the illness; and the patient signs a statement choosing hospice care instead of other Medicare-covered treatments for the terminal illness and related conditions.

Hospice care may typically involve a family member as the primary care giver, supported by a hospice team, of whom members make regular visits to assess the patient and provide additional care and other services. The team is comprised of the patient’s personal physician, hospice physician or medical doctor; nurses; hospice aides; social workers; bereavement counselors, clergy or other spiritual counselors; trained volunteers; and speech, physical, and occupational therapists if requested. The services they provide include managing the patient’s pain and symptoms; assisting the patient and family members with the emotional, psychological and spiritual aspects of dying; providing medications and medical supplies and equipment; instructing the family on patient care; providing grief and loss counseling for patient and loved ones; and making short-term inpatient care available when needed.

It’s important that a comprehensive insurance solution is put into place to respond to the type of risks inherent from the various services provided by the hospice team. This includes having Professional Liability, Workers’ Compensation, Employment Practices Liability, Cyber Liability, General Liability, and other key coverages as part of the hospice provider’s insurance portfolio. Manchester Specialty Programs focuses on protecting the home health care and hospice industries with tailored insurance products, and is proud to be endorsed by the National Association for Home Care & Hospice (NAHC). Eligible NAHC members receive a 5% Workers’ Compensation premium discount, with additional coverage and pricing enhancements currently in development. For more information about our programs and coverages, you or your local insurance agent can contact us today at toll free 1-855-972-9399.