THE HISTORY OF HOSPICE
The word "hospice" derives from hospes, which in Latin means both "guest" and "host". It is a word that shares the same linguistic root as "hospitality". During medieval times hospices were a place to rest for weary or ill travelers through their journey. It was not until 1948 that a nurse named Dame Cicely Saunders, who later became a physician, established the first modern hospice in the suburbs of London. Since then, awareness and understanding of hospice care slowly gained traction around the world and in 1982 US Congress created a Medicare hospice benefit. In 1993 under President Clinton's health care reform, hospice became a nationally guaranteed benefit and an accepted part of the health care continuum. For the first time in 2004, the number of individuals receiving hospice services in the United States exceeded one million individuals.
WHAT IS HOSPICE?
Hospice is the philosophy of care which focuses on the management of symptoms and the promotion of comfort for those with life-limiting illnesses whether acute, chronic, or terminal. When disease progression has passed the point of treatment or when treatment outcomes would no longer lead to quality of life, hospice focuses on the individual's pain and symptom management while supporting their family's emotional and spiritual needs.
WHERE IS HOSPICE CARE PROVIDED?
Hospice care can be provided in a variety of settings. Whether in an inpatient setting where an individual is admitted in a hospital or in outpatient settings such as convalescent homes, skilled nursing facilities, assisted living facilities, board & care, senior living communities, or even right in the comfort of their own home.
WHO PAYS FOR HOSPICE CARE?
Dale Cicely Saunders at St. Christopher's Hospice
The Medicare hospice benefit is the primary source of payment for hospice care. Those using Medicare have 100% of the cost of care related to their terminal illness covered under the Medicare Hospice Benefit. In addition, Medicaid (MediCal in California) is also another source which provides hospice and palliative care coverage. Other options for coverage also include private insurance, self-pay, and charity.