Hospice and Palliative Care go hand in hand and have a lot in common. They are domains of medicine that are commonly misunderstood because of the fact that they deal with end-of-life situations, and that can be a very sensitive time in someone’s life or their family.

Hospice care is typically given to people who have less than 6 months to live and who have decided to forego any curative treatments. It usually includes a physician, registered nurse, social worker, chaplain, bereavement specialist and volunteers. This usually happens in the setting of the person’s residence with access to an inpatient hospice admission if needed. Important to know is that Medicare, Medicaid, and Private insurances do cover Hospice services. All the medications and any kind of medical equipment needed for Hospice will be covered by your insurance.

To enroll a patient in Hospice services, 2 physicians – the patient’s physician and the hospice medical director – must certify that the patient has less than 6 months of life expectancy if the disease runs its expected course.

Palliative care is provided to people with a serious illness regardless of the prognosis or the type of care that is being provided. It may include a physician, advanced practice nurse, social worker, chaplain and other support staff. This type of care is provided primarily in a hospital setting but there are a number of outpatient services that are coming up. Insurances will only cover the physician’s fee, it does not cover the fees for the interprofessional support staff. Insurance also does not cover any kind of medical equipment needed which is covered by other means.

Anyone who would like to ask me a medical question relating to the health of older adults can email me at I hope to provide a helpful answer in a future issue of this newspaper.

Disclaimer: The information shared in this column is based on current practice guidelines but is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your healthcare provider with any questions regarding a medical condition.

Dr. Arvindselvan Mohanaselvan, M.D., is a physician board certified in internal medicine, with a subspecialty in geriatrics. He currently works at Apex Medical Group as a primary care and geriatric medicine provider.