Every year, approximately 2.5 million people die in the U.S. and of these, roughly 75% are aged 65 or older. This means that Medicare is by far the largest provider of health care during Americans’ final phase of life. In a major policy shift, Medicare recently announced that it will begin covering end-of-life counseling for patients with terminal illnesses. In this week’s blog, we’ll examine Medicare’s role in end-of-life care.
Medicare and End-of-Life Care
End-of-life care is quite expensive: About 25% of all Medicare spending goes toward providing care during the last year of a beneficiary’s life. Considering the serious and complex health conditions that many elderly Americans face, this is figure is not too surprising but it does create some challenges for policymakers when deciding what services should and should not be covered.
What is end-of-life care?
End-of-life care is a catch-all term that refers to all health care that a patient receives during their last phase of life. The most common causes of death among Americans over the age of 65 are cardiovascular disease, cancer, and respiratory diseases but end-of-life care can also refer to the period prior to a sudden death. Medicare provides a range of services for patients in their last phase of life which include home health care, diagnostic tests, care provided in hospitals and a number of other settings, and physician services. These benefits can generally be used for care that is meant to cure an illness as well as palliative care which aims to ease symptoms but not treat underlying causes. Medicare also provides hospice for terminally ill patients.
End-of-life counseling now covered
Medicare will now also begin covering end-of-life counseling, meant to provide patients with the opportunity to talk about their end-of-life options with their doctor, who will now be reimbursed for these discussions. This will allow patients to more fully understand their conditions and empower them to make decisions regarding the type of treatment they would like to receive.
About Global Premier Benefits
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