While all of our patients are special, we have a deep feeling of gratitude and admiration toward the men and women who have served our country. If you’re a veteran, you may not be aware of the hospice and palliative care benefits offered through the VA, and so we wanted to provide this basic guide to help you.
First, we’d like to outline the difference between hospice care and palliative care.
Following are a few important things to realize about your VA benefits:
VA Hospice care
- Hospice care is comprehensive care for those living with a serious illness who have a life expectancy of 6 months or less. It is a team-centered approach to expert medical care, pain management and emotional and spiritual support expressly tailored to the patient’s needs and wishes.
- Palliative care is about improving the quality of life for patients and their families, and it’s available immediately after diagnosis of a serious condition while treatment is ongoing.
1. Hospice is part of the VA’s standard medical benefits package. That means if you meet the clinical need for the service, you are eligible.The VA criteria for hospice care states that veterans must:
- Be diagnosed with a life-limiting illness.
- Have treatment goals focused on comfort rather than cure.
- Have a life expectancy, deemed by a VA physician, to be 6 months or less if the disease runs its normal course.
For other details and specifics, you may download this VA handbook
for more information.
2. There are no copays for hospice care, regardless of whether it’s provided by the VA or an organization with a VA contract. Organizations with VA contracts are very familiar with the procedures and requirements established by the VA
and can work closely with you to determine the best course of treatment.
VA Palliative care
1. If you need palliative care
, you may have a copay.
2. Covered services under palliative care typically include:
Additional VHA resources
- Comfort care consultations
- Follow-up visits from a health care team
- Support with decision making
- Help defining goals of care and promoting care that will help you meet those goals
- Consults with primary care physicians and / or specialists.
- Referrals and care coordination
We understand that learning about your benefits can be a confusing and sometimes frustrating process. For your convenience, we’ve included some resources below. If you have any questions, refer to your policy or speak to your benefit representative.
We’ve also provided links to some of the programs at Lower Cape Fear LifeCare (formerly Lower Cape Fear Hospice) geared specifically toward veterans.
Lower Cape Fear LifeCare's team is dedicated to best meet the needs of veterans. Our Lower Cape Fear LifeCare team will assist you and your family with navigating your benefit options. Please contact us for additional information.
What makes Lower Cape Fear LifeCare different?
Kelly Erola, MD, FAAHPM, FAAFP, is currently the Chief Medical Officer for Lower Cape Fear LifeCare, based in Wilmington, NC, where she has worked since 2017. Previously, she was Chief Medical Officer for Hospice Savannah, Inc. for 16 years and physician leader of the Steward Center for Palliative Care. Dr. Erola is board certified in hospice and palliative care medicine and has been involved full-time in palliative care since 2002