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Is Hospice Care Possible Without Medicare Coverage?

by Ellen Coughlin, End-of-Life Expert
December 16, 2011

Question: If my grandmother is not covered by Medicare or any other health insurance, will hospice still provide care?


That is a wonderful question and one that many families ask when they first begin to consider utilizing hospice services for a loved one with an advanced illness. The answer is “yes.” In fact, the majority of hospice programs in the United States share the philosophy of Barnabas Health Hospice and Palliative Care Center – to provide end-of-life services to all individuals, regardless of their ability to pay.

How are we able to do this? Many hospice programs require new patients to complete a financial assessment before being admitted to the program. This helps the hospice agency determine the individual’s ability to pay for services. Once this assessment is complete, the hospice team consults with family members to determine the needs of their loved one. When needed services are identified, a Hospice Social Worker reaches out to state and federal programs, on behalf of the patient, to help him/her qualify for financial assistance.

Hospice programs also internally raise funds, many through Foundations or Development Departments, to help people with the financial resources to pay for care. I suggest you connect with your local hospice(s) to inquire about the programs they have in place to assist as you and your grandmother at this time. 

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Ellen P. Coughlin, RN, MPA, MA, CHPN, has been the Vice President of Patient and Family Services for Barnabas Health Hospice and Palliative Care Center, a Barnabas Health facility located in northern New Jersey, since 1997. Currently serving as a Board Member for the New Jersey Hospice and Palliative Care Organization (NJHPCO), Ellen is also a member of the NJHPCO’s Pediatric End-of-Life Care Committee/Quality Partner Committee.

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