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Hospice Fact Sheet

Hospice Assocation of America

What's NewWhat is Hospice?

Hospice care involves a core interdisciplinary team of professionals and volunteers who provide medical, psychological, and spiritual support to the terminally ill, as well as support for the patient's family. The care is primarily based in the home, enabling families to remain together in peace, comfort, and dignity.

What Are the Advantages of Hospice Care?

  • Hospice care is a cost-effective alternative to the high costs associated with hospitals and traditional institutional care.
  • Hospice care allows terminally ill patients and their families to remain together in the comfort and dignity of their home.
  • Hospice care relies on the combined knowledge and skill of an interdisciplinary team of professionals, including physicians, nurses, home care aides, social workers, counselors, and volunteers.
  • Hospice is the preferred choice of health care delivery for the terminally ill and their families.
  • Hospice treats the person, not the disease; focuses on the family, not the individual; and emphasizes the quality of life, not the duration.

When Was the First Hospice Established?

While the hospice concept dates back to ancient times, the American hospice movement did not begin until the 1960s. The first hospice in this country, The Connecticut Hospice, Inc., began providing in-home services in March 1974. The National Cancer Institute funded it for its first three years.

How Many Hospices Exist Today?

Medicare hospice participation has grown at a dramatic rate, largely as a result of a 1989 Congressional mandate (PL 101-239, ยง6005) to increase reimbursement rates by 20%. The number of hospices participating in Medicare increased from 31 in 1984 to 3,257 in 2007. This number consists of 627 home health agency-based hospices, 562 hospital-based hospices, 18 skilled nursing facility-based hospices, and 2,050 freestanding hospices.

What Is the Future of Hospice Care?

The need for hospice services will continue to rise due to the growing aging population and the rising health care costs. More importantly, medical professionals, as well as the general public are choosing hospice over other forms of health care delivery because of its holistic, patient-family, in-home centered philosophy.

Who Pays for Hospice Care?

Hospice services are covered under Medicare, and currently 48 states offer hospice care as an option under their Medicaid programs. In addition, hospice care is a covered benefit under most private insurance plans, HMOs, and other managed care organizations. Military personnel and their dependents are covered for hospice under CHAMPUS. Hospices continue to rely heavily on grants and community support to fund un-reimbursed care and hospice services for patients with little or no insurance.


Hospice Association of America
228 Seventh Street, SE
Washington, DC 20003
Phone: (202) 546-4759
Fax: (202) 547-9559

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