Palliative Care vs. Hospice Care

Palliative Care vs. Hospice Care

The Differences Between Hospice and Palliative Care

Hospice care and palliative have two things in common. Both types of care are for people with serious illness and both aim to provide comfort (pain and symptom relief).

Most people have heard of hospice or have general thoughts about who hospice helps and what it offers families. It’s been available in our community since the early 1980s. Palliative care, however, is a new word only making headlines in the last few years.

What makes matters confusing is – all hospice care is palliative care, but not all palliative care is hospice.

To better understand palliative care versus hospice here are the answers to a few key questions.

The Differences of Palliative Care vs. Hospice Care:

What’s My Diagnosis?

Palliative care is provided to seriously ill patients coping with pain, distressing symptoms, stress or other serious side effects of their illness or treatments meant to cure.

Hospice care is provided to seriously ill patients who have a prognosis of six months or less, in their doctor’s best judgment, if the disease follows its normal course.

Who is Eligible?

Palliative care is appropriate for anyone, at any stage of serious illness. A patient may be referred at time of diagnosis, during, or in the immediate months follow treatments (chemotherapy, radiation, dialysis, physical therapy, etc.).

Hospice care is for patients not receiving curative treatments and has a life expectancy of six months or less.

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Who is Part of the Care Team?

Palliative care includes a palliative-trained, board-certified physician and/or an advance practice nurse working in collaboration with the patient’s personal physician or specialist.

The Hospice care team includes a board-certified hospice physician, patient’s personal physician or specialists, nurse, social worker, spiritual support counselor, certified home health aide, trained volunteer, dedicated on-call staff, dietary counseling, physical, occupational and speech therapist consults as needed.

What Services are Included?

Palliative care includes consultations and follow-up visits in the office or at the hospital.

Hospice services include visits to a patient’s home, long-term care facility, or hospital, inpatient care if appropriate, wound care specialists, and complementary therapies as appropriate. Additional benefits include medications and supplies, durable medical equipment, and 24-hour on-call services.

Who Pays?

Palliative care is covered by Medicare, Medicaid, and some commercial insurers with applicable co-payments and deductibles; sliding scale for the uninsured.

Hospice care is covered by Medicare, Medicaid, VA, and most commercial insurers with applicable co-payments and deductibles; sliding scale for the uninsured.


Find our more about Palliative Care versus Hospice Care

Talk to your family and your doctor about palliative care vs. hospice, as well as your goals of care and whether palliative care and/or hospice might improve your quality of life.

Have more questions? Contact us at (800) 229-8183.