What Medications Do Hospice Patients Receive?

undefinedWhen a loved one is ready for hospice, families often have a hard time imagining how they’ll pay for thecost of care. Many families are not aware that medications for management of symptoms due to terminal illnesses are provided as part of the hospice benefit. There is no cost to the patient.

So what medications are included? We break it down for you so that you know what your family can expect.

While a patient is receiving hospice care, symptoms that arise as a result of the terminal illness are always aggressively treated. That includes using medications to help relieve pain, anxiety and depression. Medications for the management of specific disease processes are also provided. For example, an end-stage heart disease patient at Crossroads would likely receive typical cardiac medications—including blood thinners and pills for hypertension, arrhythmia and angina—in addition to medications for general comfort.

The only medications that are not covered during hospice care are those that are not related to the terminal illness. The focus of hospice is care and comfort, so medications intended to cure the terminal illness or delay progression are not normally provided. (Typically all curative efforts have been exhausted prior to referral to hospice.)

A hospice may occasionally provide medications intended to delay disease progression to help the patient reach an appropriate end-of-life goal, such as moving home or allowing time for family to travel to say final goodbyes.

The hospice medical director and the interdisciplinary team work directly with the patient, family and the primary care physician to determine what medications each patient receives. Any medication coverage decision is always based on the individual’s needs.

For more information regarding the cost of hospice, read our blog post about how insurance covers this care.

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