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Palliative Care and Hospice Care: What's the Difference?

​Palliative Care Hospice Care
Who can receive this care? ​Palliative care is available to anyone with a serious illness, regardless of how long they are expected to live. ​Hospice care is for anyone with a terminal illness who is expected to live six months or less.
Can I receive standard cancer treatments along with this care? ​Yes, palliative care is provided at the same time as curative treatments. ​Treatments during hospice care are aimed primarily at relieving or controlling pain and symptoms.
Where is this care provided? ​Palliative care is provided in hospitals, outpatient clinics, doctors’ offices, patients’ homes and long-term care facilities. ​Hospice care is often provided in patients’ homes, but is also offered in long-term care facilities, hospitals and private hospice facilities.
Who provides this care? ​The members of a palliative care team can include doctors, nurses, social workers and pharmacists. ​Hospice care teams include doctors, nurses, social workers, counselors, home health aides, clergy, therapists and trained volunteers.
Does insurance pay for this care? ​Many health insurance plans, including Medicare and Medicaid, cover all or part of palliative care. ​Medicare, Medicaid in most states, the Department of Veterans Affairs and most private insurance plans pay for hospice care.
How do I find this care? ​Ask your doctor for a referral to a palliative care specialist. You can also search a directory of palliative care providers at ​Your doctor or hospital discharge planner can help you find hospice care. A directory of hospice providers is available at
Sources: American Cancer Society; Center to Advance Palliative Care; National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization


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