HOSPICE INDUSTRY FACES CHALLENGES
The development of hospice care was a big improvement over how end of life care used to be handled. Hospice care must now adapt to new circumstances and pressures.
It used to be that people were given life-saving medical treatment up until the very moment that they passed away. Everything was done for them that could be done. Not only was this very expensive, it was also often against the wishes of patients themselves.
An idea began to take shape. When death is inevitable at some point, patients would be better off being allowed to pass away peacefully and with as little pain as possible.
Out of this idea, the hospice care industry was developed.
Today, a hospice facility is where many people live out their last days with support from hospice staff and their families.
However, changes in society mean that hospice now needs to adapt, as Politico reports in "Hospice in crisis."
One of the biggest issues for hospice is the availability of funding. Medicare pays facilities a per patient per diem for in-facility care and slightly less for in-home services.
That funding faces a looming crisis, as the number of elderly people continues to rise. Ostensibly, more people will need hospice treatment.
Another thing that makes funding an issue is that more and more people are choosing to die at home in lieu of at a hospital or hospice facility. There is often neither the money nor the availability of trained professionals to provide proper in-home care.
In some cases, that means many people end up in even more expensive emergency rooms and hospital beds, even if they wanted to die at home.
It is not known how the hospice industry will adapt to these challenges and how Medicare will be funded to pay for the increased spending needs that are certain to come in the future.
What is known is that it is of crucial importance to find solutions before the problem becomes too big to handle.
Reference: Politico (Sep. 27, 2017) "Hospice in crisis."