How to Start Hospice Care

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Hospice Program Eligibility:

To be eligible for admission a physician must provide a statement (referral) providing a terminal diagnoses along with an estimation that the patient has, approximately, six (6) months or less to live. Some Blue Cross/Blue Shield patients in Michigan can take advantage of new expanded hospice benefit that provides coverage for up to one year and allows patients to undergo surgery and other medical treatments.

Hospice Program Admission:

Hospice of Northwest Michigan accepts physician Hospice referrals and will promptly arrange for a home visit that includes an initial assessment to begin providing services- usually within twenty-four hours. At the time of the home visit the patient signs a simple form electing “Hospice Benefits” and is admitted to the Hospice Program upon completion of the form. Further home visits follow continue assessing patient and family needs. The patient and family members are also encouraged to prepare legal documents such as wills, powers of attorney, and advanced directives (see Planning for Medical Care and Treatment) if they have not already done so. Hospice personnel are available to provide assistance in preparing these documents and also in navigating the health care system.

While in a Hospice Program Medicare and Medicaid patients receive hospice benefits (coverage) as opposed to traditional Medicare or Medicaid benefits. If a patient withdraws from the hospice program they are immediately eligible to return to Medicare and Medicaid benefits without any penalties or limitations. Similarly, most commercial insurances operate in much the same manner. (Check with your provider to confirm procedure.)

Exiting the Hospice Program:

A patient may exit the Hospice Program at any time. A simple one page form declaring that the patient elects to revoke hospice, includes a reason for revocation, and documents informed consent and is signed and dated by the patient or patient advocate, a representative of the Hospice Program and a witness effects revocation.

Re-entering the Hospice Program:

A patient who has revoked the Hospice Program can re-enter the Hospice Program provided eligibility requirements are met.

Bereavement Services:

After a loved one has passed away, the Hospice Program offers bereavement services to the bereaved. A close family member may choose some, all, or none of the bereavement services offered. Hospice staff “follow-up” from time to time for 13 months following the death of a hospice patient. Bereavement services are not necessarily limited to 13 months and a family member can also initiate services after 13 months. In addition, bereavement services are available for those who did not participate in our Hospice Program.