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How To Choose A Hospice

A Quick Hospice Check List

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To better the chances of receiving the highest quality of  hospice care, look for a hospice that meets the following criteria:  

  • The  hospice is certified by Medicare. In order to obtain certification, all hospice organizations that are approved for Medicare / Medicaid payment must meet specific requirements for patient care and financial management. Non-certification could indicate a problem.
  • JCAHO rating. JCAHO is a not-for-profit organization that reviews quality of service, and provides voluntary accreditation for hospitals, nursing homes,  hospices, and other medical facilities.  To learn the JCAHO rating for a particular hospice, see offsite link
  • The hospice is licensed if licensing is required in your state. All states  require licensing of hospice organizations (usually under the direction of the  state health department), except: Hawaii, Idaho and Vermont.  To determine if an agency meets state  licensing requirements, you may contact your state  health department or your state hospice agency.   For contact information for your state health department, click here offsite link.
  • The hospice has been inspected recently and has no violations. For a list of hospices that are past due for inspection and that have violations, click here offsite link.
  • You have a referral from a reliable source, such as your doctor, social worker, local disease specific non-profit organization, or a respected hospital. 
  • The hospice takes your insurance (Medicare, Medicaid or private insurance).  
  • The hospice is a full service provider (including access to inpatient facilities).  Hospices define their own scope of practice within broad boundaries. See What Is Hospice for a list of services a full provider agency should be capable of supplying.   
  • The agency has the necessary pain management program to meet your needs. 
  • If you have special care needs (such as requiring specialized medical equipment), the agency has the provisions and personnel to provide adequate care. 
  • Out-of-pocket expenses for which you will be responsible are bearable.  
  • If you have to pay for hospice care  and your finances are limited, the agency provides services on a sliding  scale, or free of charge. 

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