Does Medicare Cover Palliative Care?

In this article...
  • Palliative care maintains quality of life for patients and is an important part of medical care. Does Medicare cover palliative care? Find out more below.

Medicare covers a variety of health-related issues through its various parts for those age 65 and up. Some beneficiaries are younger but are covered because of disabilities. While the different parts of Medicare cover any number of health-related services, the question of does Medicare cover palliative care speaks to how this approach is covered and to what extent.  

What Is Palliative Care?

Palliative care is an interdisciplinary approach to medical care that is initiated for chronic or terminal health conditions. The emphasis for this kind of care is managing quality of life for these individuals.

Sometimes, this means solely treating the symptoms of the condition, and in others, it means treating the condition itself. 

Does Medicare Cover Palliative Care?

In most instances, Medicare does cover palliative care under Part B and through  Medicare Advantage (Medicare Part C) plans. There is sometimes confusion about palliative care and hospice care. While palliative care can be administered in a hospice facility, it can also be administered in other health care settings as well. 

Services administered through hospice are generally covered under Part A of the Medicare program. However, palliative care administered by a physician or as part of another treatment plan, depending on the health condition in question, is generally covered under one of the other components of the program. 

Does Palliative Care Mean Treatment Cessation?

When asking does Medicare cover palliative care, it is important to note that this approach does not mean treatment cessation. In most instances, the emphasis for this form of care is centered on preserving quality of life for individuals.

However, they may continue to pursue treatment for their medication condition despite the receipt of this form of care. In fact, medical care providers sometimes recommend to patients that they engage in palliative care alongside treatment protocols to ensure as high a quality of life as possible even during treatment. 

Palliative care only transitions to treatment cessation or hospice care if the diagnosis in question is terminal within six months. 

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