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Taking Care of Mom and Dad: Payments Made by Your Parents

Medicare pays the hospice directly at specified rates depending on the type of care given each day. The patient is responsible for:

Drugs: The hospice can charge 5 percent of the reasonable cost, up to a maximum of $5, for each prescription for outpatient drugs for pain relief and symptom management related to the terminal illness.

Inpatient Respite Care: The hospice may periodically arrange for inpatient care for the patient to give temporary relief to the person who regularly provides care in the home. Respite care is limited each time to a stay of no more then five days. The charge (currently 5 percent), which is subject to change annually, varies slightly depending on where your parents live.

When Medicare beneficiaries choose hospice care, they give up the right to standard Medicare benefits only for treatment of the terminal illness. If the patient, who must have Part A in order to use the Medicare hospice benefit, also has Medicare Part B, he or she can use all appropriate Medicare Part A and Part B benefits for the treatment of health problems unrelated to the terminal illness. When standard benefits are used, the patient is responsible for Medicare's deductible and coinsurance amounts.

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