It’s no secret that medical care is frequently most expensive in the final months of life. Healthcare professionals are using all of their skills and technology to keep patients alive. This is why Americans are living longer now than ever before. The new medicines, treatments and surgeries often come with higher costs than what can be seen on a medical bill. For some patients, such measures may result in an extreme decrease in the quality of life. Edo Banach, president and CEO of the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization (NHPCO), recently wrote, “Families who don’t know that there’s an alternative stand helplessly by as the last months of life get swallowed up by costly, sometimes unnecessary, treatments that can hurt more than they help. Healthcare consumers and policymakers must be aware that it doesn’t have to be this way. In an increasingly broken and fragmented health care system, hospice care – the nation’s first coordinated care model – shows how health care should and can work at its best for patients at the end of life.”
Studies show that hospice care is cost-effective. Here in Central New York, it costs about $190 a day for hospice care. More importantly, it’s care that offers patients expertise in pain and symptom management while emotional and spiritual support are provided to our patients and families. All of these services are individually determined by the needs of each patient and family by an interdisciplinary team of physicians, nurses, social workers, chaplains, bereavement counselors and specially trained volunteers. Hospice treats patients and their families with dignity and respect whether it’s care at home or in a nursing home. Our patients’ families show their approval of the care we offer by giving us a 98% satisfaction rate.
The availability of quality hospice care in the future is not guaranteed. “Despite more than 35 years’ success in the Medicare program, inevitable changes in our health care system could threaten hospice’s effective, original system of coordinated care. A rash or untested policy shift could lead to care delays, limitations on patients’ ability to select their preferred provider or a loss of autonomy for the hospice medical directors,” according to Banach. Currently, an estimated 1.7 million Americans receive hospice services each year with 1.4 million Americans choosing to utilize hospice through their Medicare benefit. Any change in the system must be thoroughly evaluated to make sure no patients fall through the cracks.
Whomever you choose to represent you in the county, state or federal government we hope you insist that they fight to keep your hospice benefits working for you!