Hospice care is palliative, but not all palliative care is hospice

Oftentimes, there is confusion about the difference between hospice and palliative care. While both are focused on relieving symptoms and improving a patient’s quality of life, hospice in particular is for patients with a terminal diagnosis, and a life expectancy of 6 months or less.

Individuals diagnosed with a life-limiting illness (and perhaps an eventual terminal prognosis that is more than 6 months) can receive palliative care, alongside aggressive or curative treatment. And sometimes, those who may not be ready for the idea of hospice care may find comfort in palliative care.

Below are some key similarities and differences between palliative and hospice care:

Palliative Care Hospice Care
What is it? A focus on relieving pain, symptoms, and stress of a serious illness, often alongside curative treatment. Illnesses and patients do not need to be terminal. An integrative approach to providing quality care for patients at the end of life. It focuses on providing comfort through pain and symptom management. Patient has terminal diagnosis with a prognosis of 6 months or less.
Who can be treated? Anyone with a serious, life limiting illness. Anyone with a terminal illness whose physician predicts may have 6 months or less to live.
Is there a time frame for care? No. You can receive palliative care at any point of your illness, and it is often recommended to start soon after diagnosis. A physician would certify that prognosis of the terminal illness is 6 months or less, if the illness naturally runs its course. However, patients may receive recertification of their hospice eligibility and can continue to receive care.
Will patient symptoms be relieved? Yes, as much as possible. Yes, as much as possible. For acute care of symptoms that cannot be managed at home, our in-patient facility, Casey House, is available.
What is the scope of service provided to the patient? Generally, a doctor and/or nurse practitioner, and often a care coordinator or social worker. At PMC, our palliative care consult service, we have an interdisciplinary team, which includes a social worker and a chaplain. Each patient has an interdisciplinary team including a doctor, nurse, nurse aide, social worker, chaplain, and volunteers. The patient’s primary doctor may continue to be involved in care if the patient chooses. Bereavement support is available to the family for 13 months after death (24 months for pediatric patients).
Where can you receive care?
  • Home
  • Skilled nursing facility
  • Assisted living facility
  • Hospital
  • PMC Offices (see locations)
  • Home
  • Skilled nursing facility
  • Assisted living facility
  • Hospital
  • Hospice facility/Acute Care Inpatient Unit (Casey House)
Does Medicare pay? It depends on your plan. Medicare Part B pays 80% of charges for physician services, and the remainder is billed to either a secondary insurance or to the patient. There is coinsurance. Yes, Medicare Part A pays all hospice services.
What about private insurance? It depends on the insurance plan. Our PMC website includes a list of insurances accepted. There is a copay. It depends on the plan. Most Medicaid programs pay for hospice 100%, and most private insurances have hospice benefits. We offer charity care for any patient who may not be covered through insurance.
What additional services are offered?
  • Telehealth
  • Navigating goals of care (including alongside curative treatments)
  • Advance Care Planning
  • Workshops that support the patients and family needs

To learn more about our palliative care service, Palliative Medicine Consultants, visit www.palliativeconsultants.org.

Read more about our hospice services and resources available on this website.

Want to keep a resource like this with you?

Download our Palliative Care vs. Hospice Care Flyer