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Dan Walker graduated with a BS in Administrative Management in 2005 and has been working in his family’s insurance agency, FCI Agency, for 15 years. He is licensed as an agent to write property and casualty insurance, including home, auto, umbrella, and dwelling fire insurance. He’s also been featured on sites like

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Reviewed by Daniel Walker
Licensed Auto Insurance Agent Daniel Walker

UPDATED: Apr 24, 2022

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The Lowdown

  • Private insurance covers the broadest range of hospice benefits
  • Medicare is one of the most popular public options for paying for hospice care
  • Public options are the most accessible option for lower-income households

Many people consider hospice care for their loved ones but don’t apply for it because they assume that health insurance does not cover hospice. So, does insurance cover hospice?

Most health insurance companies will cover hospice care as long as the insuree meets a few basic requirements. It is important to check out insurance plans from different companies to find the best option for you. Below, we’ll explain how each type of insurance covers hospice, including commercial insurance, Medicare, and Medicaid.

Use our free quote tool to find insurance companies that do cover hospice.

Does commercial insurance cover hospice care?

Many insurance plans cover hospice. Private insurance generally gives the most protection and offers the widest variety of hospice benefits.

The most common insurance plans that cover hospice are provided through employment. Former or current employer insurance plans may also cover hospice for your family members. Commercial insurance that covers hospice is easy to apply for and will save you a lot of money and effort in the long run.

Another question frequently asked is who pays for hospice care at home through private insurance?

Your insurance company will pay for home hospice care. However, you may have to pay a deductible for certain services.

Most private insurance will cover payment for medical professionals, medical supplies, prescriptions, inpatient care (typically up to six months), and up to a week of respite care.

The cost of your insurance plan depends on your budget, the kind of care you need, and the location of your residence.

What are the normal requirements to be given hospice treatment under insurance?

Most insurance plans will pay for hospice treatment as long as the person who is looking to qualify is estimated to pass away within six months due to a terminal illness.

Unlike Medicare, there is no age requirement to qualify for hospice treatment. As long as you meet the financial requirements, your insurance company should cover hospice care.

How do payments work?

How much you may need to pay for hospice treatment depends on what your insurance policy covers.

Insurance companies will work with you to explore your best option for hospice payments. It is important to understand and discuss your options with a professional.

There are certain hospice services that you may need to pay out of pocket for. Some services may be covered only after you have paid your deductible.

Your insurance plan may not cover emergency care and certain forms of pain relief through physical therapy. Make sure that your insurance covers hospice care when you apply.

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Does Medicare cover hospice?

Public health options, such as Medicare insurance and Medicaid, are the most common payers of hospice care in the United States. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) process insurance payments to the federal and state governments.

Many private insurance companies follow the regulations and standards set by Medicare to qualify individuals for hospice care. This means that the benefits and rates of hospice treatment are often comparable between lower-range to middle-range private options and Medicare.

Hospice services available are often location-based. This means that both public and private insurance will often cover the same hospice services and personnel.

Unlike private insurance, Medicare has no deductible for hospice services. However, Medicare may require a small copayment for medications. Medicare may also not fully cover respite care.

What are Medicare guidelines for hospice?

A person has to meet the following requirements to qualify for a hospice benefit:

  • Be professionally diagnosed with a terminal illness. A licensed medical practitioner needs to diagnose you.
  • Be confirmed to have less than six months to live. A primary care physician or a team of hospice medical directors needs to confirm this.
  • Be at least 65 years old. This is not a requirement for people with Medicare Part A.
  • Be a recipient of Social Security or qualify for Social Security.

If you meet the requirements above, you can submit a hospice election statement to the CMS. A hospice election statement waives your payments for your terminal illness in the future and denotes that Medicare will pay for your hospice treatment. All public options require you to submit an election statement to the CMS.

What is a Medicare hospice benefit?

A hospice benefit is a hospice service given through an insurance program.

Medicare offers the following hospice benefits:

  • Palliative care. A patient is given emotional, physical, social, and psychological support.
  • A team of hospice staff. A patient is given an around-the-clock team qualified and well-experienced to deal with a hospice patient.
  • Medical equipment and supplies. This includes, but is not limited to, wheelchairs, bandages, and catheters.
  • Prescription drugs. This may include medication that helps a patient deal with their terminal illness. It may also include pain-relief medication to deal with additional symptoms.
  • Family counseling and specialty services. Many types of family grief and consulting services are available, including religious ministers and financial specialists.
  • Home services. Nurses and professionals will come to your residence and provide a variety of hospice-related services.

Medicare, along with private health insurance, covers a wide variety of hospice-related services in addition to the services listed above.

Does Medicaid cover hospice?

Medicaid is a popular option for covering hospice.

Medicaid offers high-quality health services to over 72.5 million Americans under the Affordable Care Act. Medicaid has given low-income households access to healthcare, including hospice services.

Your Modified Adjusted Gross Income (MAGI) determines their insurance payments through Medicaid.

If you proceed with Medicaid as your hospice payment choice, you need to sign an election statement with a specific hospice. An election statement will waive your rights to emergency care or treatment for your terminal condition.

Once the election statement is received, a qualified physician checks whether hospice care is appropriate, given a patient’s condition and illness. After this step, you can discuss plans, options, and services.

What are some of the services provided by Medicaid?

Medicaid hospice coverage benefits cover multiple different types of at-home nursing. Home hospice care benefits include routine nurse visits, continuous care, and short-term care.

Medicare and Medicaid services are well-developed for dealing with at-home hospice care.

Medicaid includes a wide variety of hospice-related services, in addition to inpatient care, including family counseling, physical therapy, home health supplies, and occupational therapy. You should contact your state Medicaid office to determine what services are available to you. Hospice benefits may vary by state.

The Bottom Line: Does insurance cover hospice?

Health insurance gives most Americans some coverage for hospice care. If you think it is likely that a family member may need hospice care, you should discuss your options with your insurance company.

Private insurance generally offers a policyholder the most flexible form of hospice treatment. However, public options like Medicare and Medicaid may have lower monthly or annual costs.

To provide the best hospice care possible, you should look for options with as many health insurance companies as possible. To find rates from health insurance companies, enter your ZIP code into our free quote tool below.

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Frequently Asked Questions: Hospice and Insurance

Dealing with hospice care and health insurance doesn’t have to be a complicated process. Here are some common questions about hospice care.

#1 – Do insurance companies cover hospice for sudden incurable illnesses or injuries?

Your insurance company will likely cover hospice regardless of how sudden you develop a terminal illness, as long as you have a written notice from a doctor. If you are doing an expedited hospice treatment in a hospital, you should discuss different payment options with hospital staff.

#2 – Are there other ways to pay for hospice care?

There are many nonprofit organizations and hospital-specific programs which may waive some of the costs of hospice care. Many people also gift hospice care or offer donations.

#3 – Does hospice care include religious services?

Many hospitals provide chaplain services, including last rites, for hospice patients. Private and public insurance also covers religious visits. Ministers typically do not charge to do last rites within a hospital or home environment.

No hospital can discriminate against a person based on their religious beliefs, nor any other characteristic or trait.

#4 – Do hospice wards allow pets?

If you give prior notice, many hospice wards in hospitals will allow people to bring their pets. Emotional support animals, guide dogs, and family pets typically qualify if you have a doctor’s note.