skip to Main Content
When I Hear The Word “Hospice”

When I Hear The Word “Hospice”

There are certain words in health care that no one wants to hear. Hospice shouldn’t be one of them. When people hear the word ‘hospice’, they generally know it has something to with end-of-life care? But what is hospice really? The purpose of hospice is to provide care, support, and comfort to patients and their family members when an illness can no longer be cured.

Many people think that hospice is about giving up and that it is only for cancer patients. All these rumors are false and often brought on by a lack of information about hospice care. There are many common misconceptions about hospice, below are some of the most common myths.

Myth – Hospice is giving up.

Truth: Unlike other medical care, hospice focuses on a patient’s comfort and dignity near life’s end. Hospice is not about dying, it’s about living. Research shows that people with a life-limiting illness who choose hospice live longer and experience better quality of life than those who do not.

Myth – Hospice is only for cancer patients.

Truth: Hospice care is available to all terminally ill individuals and their families, regardless of diagnosis. Some of the most common non-cancer diagnoses are congestive heart failure, dementia, chronic lung disease, and failure to thrive.

Myth – Individuals can only receive hospice care for six months; therefore, enrollment should be delayed as long as possible.

Truth: Although hospice is for patients who have a life expectancy of six months or less (should the disease run its natural course), patients can be on hospice for much longer than that, and many patients are.

Hospice patients are assessed regularly during each benefit period. As long as they continue to meet Medicare criteria, patients can continue to receive hospice support indefinitely. Medicare pays 100%.

Myth – Hospice requires you to switch doctors.

Truth: A patient does not have to give up his or her primary care physician, when the patient is admitted to hospice. In fact, the patient’s physician is a crucial member of the hospice care team.

Myth – Hospice is where people go to die.

Truth: Most hospice patients receive care in their place of residence, which includes private homes, assisted living communities, and long-term care facilities. In some instances, hospice is provided in an inpatient hospice setting for people whose pain or other symptoms cannot be adequately managed at home.

Myth – Once a patient enters hospice care, there is no turning back.

Truth: Individuals are free to leave a hospice program at any time for any reason without penalty. Re-enrollment in a hospice program is permitted as long as medical eligibility criteria are met.


Research shows that those with a terminal illness who choose hospice care tend to live longer and have better quality of life than those who choose more aggressive end-of-life medical care.1

Hospice is not just utilized for a patient’s last days. It focuses on giving expert care, comfort, and support to both patients and family members through the end-of-life journey.


  1. Connor SR, Pyenson B, Fitch K, Spence C, Iwasaki K. Comparing hospice and nonhospice patient survival among patients who die within a three-year window. Journal of pain and symptom management. 2007 Mar 1;33(3):238-46.
  2. Dispelling Hospice Myths. Hospice [Internet] Foundation of America. Available from: