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Medicare 101

Hospice vs. Palliative Care

Christian Worstell

by Christian Worstell | Published October 30, 2023 | Reviewed by John Krahnert

Palliative and hospice programs provide care to chronically ill individuals to help reduce suffering and improve their overall quality of life. Below we compare and contrast these types of programs to help you better understand how they work together.

Palliative Care 

Palliative care is generally recommended early on and often at the same time as treatment. Palliative care teams are made up of doctors, nurses and other specialized medical caregivers, and usually operate in institutions such as hospitals, extended care facilities or nursing homes.


Generally, hospice care is provided during the last six months of a person's life and is meant to make terminally ill individuals as comfortable as possible for the time they have left. Hospice care does not provide treatment for a disease or condition. In most cases, hospice care is administered by a team of hospice professionals in the comfort of one's home.

Although hospice and palliative care have numerous differences, there are several areas in which they overlap.

  • Both hospice and palliative care are specialized medical care, offered to patients who have a serious illness or life-limiting condition.
  • Both are focused on relieving the symptoms and stress associated with the patient’s condition.
  • Both are designed to improve the patient’s quality of life, psychological well-being, and satisfaction.
  • Both addressing whatever physical, emotional, and spiritual needs you have to make you as comfortable as possible

Medicare Coverage

Medicare covers hospice services if you meet certain criteria and may help cover certain palliative services.

If your doctor or other health care provider recommends a palliative care program to help cure your illness, talk to to them about what's covered by Medicare and decide together what course of action makes the most sense for you.

Your Out-Of-Pocket Costs

Even with Medicare coverage, you may still have to pay certain out-of-pocket costs, such as deductibles, copayments and coinsurance.

A Medicare Supplement Insurance plan can help cover some of these costs. To find out what Medigap plans are available in your area, call 1-800-995-4219 to speak with a licensed insurance agent.

Keep Reading 

The following guides provide more information about Medicare coverage.


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