How are hospice benefits paid for?

Medicare, Medicaid, Private Insurance and Self pay

When should a decision about entering a hospice program be made, and who should make it?

At any time during a life-limiting illness, it’s appropriate to discuss all of an individual’s care options, including hospice. By law the decision belongs to the individual. Understandably, most people are uncomfortable with the idea of stopping aggressive efforts to “beat” the disease. Hospice Savannah staff members are highly sensitive to these concerns and always available to discuss these issues with the individual and their family.

May I still use my regular doctor?

Yes, we encourage you to continue seeing your primary care physician. Our team continues to communicate with your primary care physician while you receive care from us.

What if our physician doesn’t know about hospice?

Most physicians know about hospice. You and your family should feel free to discuss hospice care at any time with your physician, other health care professionals, clergy or friends. If your physician wants more information about hospice, it is available from the National Council of Hospice Professionals Physician Section, medical societies, state hospice organizations, or the National Hospice Helpline, 1-800-658-8898. In addition physicians and anyone can also obtain information on hospice from the American Cancer Society, the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP), and the Social Security Administration.

Will I still be able to make my own decisions regarding my care?

Yes, you and your family are in charge of your care.

Will my advance directive be honored by Hospice Savannah?

Yes, it is your right to choose your advance directives—which are your options for care as you approach death. We do not require a DNR (Do Not Resuscitate) to be cared for by Hospice Savannah. Our staff is always available to discuss your future options.

What does the hospice admission process involve?

One of the first things Hospice Savannah does is contact the patient’s physician to make them aware of your request. Hospice Savannah has full-time medical staff available to help patients who have no physician. Our professionals will visit you and your family at home, in the hospital, or wherever you are to obtain authorization for hospice care. The individual will be asked to sign the consent and insurance forms. These are similar to the forms patients sign when they enter a hospital.

The “hospice election form” says the patient understands that the care is palliative (that is, aimed at pain relief and symptom control, rather than curative. It also outlines the services available. The Medicare form tells how electing the Medicare hospice benefit affects other Medicare coverage.

Can a hospice patient who shows sign of recovery be returned to regular medical treatment?

Certainly. If the patient’s condition improves and the disease seems to be in remission, patients can be discharged from Hospice Savannah and return to aggressive therapy or go on about their daily life. If the discharged patient should later need to return to our care, Medicare and most private insurance will allow continuation of the hospice benefit.

What will happen if I outlive my prognosis?

Hospice Savannah will continue to provide the same care for you as long as you remain hospice eligible. You will not be given less service regardless of how long you are in our care. Some people live longer than their original prognosis once their pain and symptoms are under control.

What specific assistance does hospice provide home-based patients?

Hospice Savannah patients are cared for by a team of physicians, nurses, social workers, counselors, certified nursing assistants, clergy, therapists, and volunteers. – and each provides assistance based on his or her own area of expertise. In addition, Hospice Savannah provides medications, supplies, equipment, and Hospice Inpatient Unit (HIPU) services, related to the terminal illness, and additional volunteer helpers in the home, if and when needed.

Is there any special equipment or changes I have to make in my home before hospice care begins?

Hospice Savannah will assess your needs and help make arrangements to obtain any necessary equipment. Often the need for equipment is minimal at first and increases as the illness progresses.

How many family members or friends does it take to care for a patient at home?

There is no set number. One of the first things our Hospice Savannah team will do is to prepare an individualized care plan that will, among other things, assess the number and kind of services needed by the patient. Hospice Savannah staff visit regularly and are accessible to help answer medical questions, provide support, and teach caregivers 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. After hour visits are possible 24/7 as necessary.

Must someone be with the patient at all times?

In the early weeks of care, it’s usually not necessary for someone to be with the patient all the time. Later, however, since one of the most common fears of patients is the fear of dying alone, Hospice Savannah generally recommends someone be there continuously. While family and friends do deliver the care, Hospice Savannah can provide volunteers to assist with errands and to provide a break and time away for primary caregivers. While no one from Hospice Savannah will move into your home, we will work with you to establish a frequency of visits from your Hospice Savannah care team members that meets your unique needs.

Is caring for the patient at home the only place hospice care can be delivered?

No. Although 90% of Hospice Savannah patient care is provided in their own homes, some Hospice Savannah patients live in nursing homes or assisted living centers, while others can be cared for in Hospice Savannah’s 28 bed facility, Hospice Inpatient Unit (HIPU).

How does hospice “manage pain”?

Hospice Savannah believes emotional and spiritual pain are just as real and in need of attention as physical pain, so we address all types of pain.. Hospice Savannah nurses and physicians are current on the latest medications and devices for pain and symptom relief.

In addition, our staff assists patients to be as mobile and self sufficient as they wish, and they are often joined by our specialists schooled in music therapy, art therapy, massage, story keeping, and diet counseling.

Finally, various counselors, including chaplains, are available to assist family members as well as our patients.

Does hospice do anything to make death come sooner?

Hospice neither hastens nor postpones dying. Just as doctors and midwives lend support and expertise during the time of child birth, Hospice Savannah provides its presence and specialized knowledge during the dying process.

Morphine and other painkillers do not hasten death, and are used in conjunction with other kinds of symptomatic relief to preserve and extend the quality of the life of the patient.

What is Hospice Savannah’s success rate in battling pain?

Extremely high. Using some combination of medications, counseling and therapies, most patients will attain a level of comfort that is acceptable to them. Please contact our Quality Assurance Officer who can share our most recent patient satisfaction survey results.

Is Hospice Savannah affiliated with any religious organization?

No. While churches and religious groups have started hospices (sometimes in connection with their hospitals), Hospice Savannah serves a broader community and does not require our patients to adhere to any particular set of beliefs, religion, etc.

Does hospice provide any help to the family after the patient dies?

Hospice Savannah provides continuing contact and support for caregivers for at least 13 months following the death of a loved one.   Hospice Savannah also sponsors bereavement and support groups for anyone in the community who has experienced a death of a family member, a friend, or a similar loss.

How are Hospice Savannah's services paid for?

Medicare Hospice Benefit: Medicare covers hospice care. Covered services include clinical visits, equipment and supplies related to the terminal illness for the hospice patient. Please watch the video at the top of this page for more detailed information. We will contact the insurance provider and let patients know any cost for which they are responsible.

Private Insurance: Many insurance policies cover most, if not all, hospice services. We will contact the insurance provider and notify the patient of any out-of-pocket cost and policy limitations such as copays and deductibles.

Residential Status: Costs associated with living at Hospice Savannah’s Hospice Inpatient Unit (HIPU) are not covered by Medicare, or by most private insurance plans. Room and board care is needed when a patient’s medical condition is stable, but the patient is no longer able or does not wish to remain at home. If a nursing home or assisted living placement cannot be arranged, room and board care fees are based on the patient’s ability to pay. Our social workers will assist patients and their families to secure financial assistance when needed, based on the availability of charitable funding.

If the patient is not covered by Medicare or any other health insurance, will hospice still provide care?

The first thing Hospice Savannah will do is assist families in finding out whether the patient is eligible for any coverage they may not be aware of. Barring that, for those individuals with no coverage, fees may be charged based upon income and other financial information. Please ask to speak to your social worker if you with to have your financial situation assessed. With generous donations by the community and the United Way, services for individuals determined to have no ability to pay, can be covered based on the availability of these charitable donations.Our goal at Hospice Savannah is to be in a position to not deny services to any patient due to the lack of funding.

Do you accept donations?

Yes, of course. Hospice Savannah is a not-for-profit community based program. No one is denied our care based on ability to pay or lack of insurance. Donations help us offset costs associated with providing care to all who need or desire it. For more information about supporting Hospice Savannah, call (912-629-1055) which is the number for Hospice Savannah Foundation, or visit the Hospice Savannah Foundation’s website pages under: How You Can Help.