When people hear the word “hospice,” they generally know it has something to do with end-of-life care. But what is it really? What kind of care? Are there rules that determine what happens to the patient? What about the patient’s family? The purpose of hospice is to provide care, support, and comfort to patients and their family members when an illness can no longer be cured. Millions of Americans have experienced hospice firsthand, yet some misunderstandings persist. So when the subject of hospice care (or comfort care) comes up for you or a loved one, you may not know what happens during the end-of-life journey of care. As the oldest, largest, and only nonprofit hospice in Southern Nevada, we want to answer some of the most often asked questions.

Will my insurance cover hospice care?

Hospice providers accept Medicare, Medicaid, and many major insurances. Most of the time, that care will be fully covered. 96% of our patients at Nathan Adelson are 100% covered by their insurance. Medicare patients are fully covered for all hospice services related to their terminal illness and typically have no out-of-pocket expenses. Prescription medications related to a hospice diagnosis are also covered at no cost to the patient. Medicaid varies by state, but typically the coverage is similar to Medicare. And most private insurance firms follow the federal Medicare hospice guidelines too. Private insurance and HMO plans cover hospice services through a specific hospice benefit or a hospital, home health, or private-duty benefit. A full list of the private insurance plans accepted by Nathan Adelson Hospice is listed here. Sometimes the language within an insurance plan can be confusing. Our staff is always ready to help you review your coverage by calling 702-733-0320.

Which medications are covered under hospice?

Medicare and major insurers usually cover all the costs of medications that relate to a terminal diagnosis. But other health-related costs are not covered. For example, if a patient wore glasses before entering hospice, the fees for an eye exam or the cost of new glasses would not be covered under the hospice benefit.

Will I be able to keep my doctor?

At Nathan Adelson Hospice, we encourage your physician to continue to serve as your primary doctor. In collaboration with our medical team, your primary care physician may attend team conferences, be included in health and comfort decisions, and oversee your plan of care. 

Will I stay at home or have to go to an inpatient facility?

Most patients and families prefer to be in the comfort of their own home, in familiar surroundings while receiving hospice care. For different patients, their home may be a private residence or that of a loved one, a hospital, an assisted living center, or nursing home. Nathan Adelson Hospice is fortunate to have two inpatient facilities. Hospice care in our inpatient units is for the management of pain and symptoms that cannot be effectively relieved in a home setting. 

Does hospice cover housing costs?

If a patient needs housing, our social workers will help identify available community resources. 

How long will I be in hospice? Can I stop hospice care? 

Hospice care is unique to you or your loved one’s medical condition. Every patient’s condition and experience is different. The main medical requirement for hospice is a physician’s prognosis that their patient has a terminal illness with six months or less to live. It is important to understand that this does not mean a patient will not live longer than six months. It is your own choice to enter or stop hospice care. If the patient improves or wishes to seek curative treatment, they may discontinue hospice care, returning if and when they choose.

Will I receive 24-hour supportive care at home?

The hospice care team is made up of uniquely skilled professionals who know what patients and families go through as they enter hospice and are likely to go through during the end of life journey. They work closely with you, and each other to optimize care at every stage, including physicians, advanced nurse practitioners, registered nurses, licensed practical nurses, certified nursing assistants, social workers, spiritual care professionals, and specially-trained volunteers. The team will coordinate with the family on a schedule of regular nursing visits, assistance with personal care such as bathing, and emotional and spiritual support visits according to the Plan of Care.  Most of these visits take place during times that patients find most convenient during the workweek. In an emergency, support is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Professional members of our team are just a phone call away, (702) 733-0320. 

Will you still feed patients on hospice?

Hospice care neither prolongs life nor delays death. If patients can and want to eat or drink, they most certainly can. If feeding interferes with the patient’s comfort or well-being, then the intake of food can be discontinued. 

Will I have to have a feeding tube?

Our physicians and advanced nurse practitioners assess each patient’s unique health condition. Our care team will collaborate with you and your primary physician to determine the necessary and the most effective treatments, including nutrition. We strive to provide medical interventions that support your goals and best address the medical needs while respecting the wishes of patients and families.

What is the difference between for-profit and non-profit hospice?

Our Nathan Adelson Hospice Foundation raises money so that we can provide hospice care to uninsured and underinsured members of our community. As a mission-driven organization, we also provide additional support, programs, or services not funded by Medicare or private insurance. 

We can be your trusted partner

If you want additional information or would like to discuss a hospice referral, call the Nathan Adelson Hospice admission team at 702.733.0320. 

The philosophy of Nathan Adelson Hospice is to provide support and care so that people with a life-limiting illness may live as fully and comfortably as possible. We do all we can to make sure that no one in our care ends the journey of life alone, afraid or in pain.