Hospice care is critical to providing quality of life and comfort to those receiving care and serves as a valuable resource to their families. Recognizing hospice’s many benefits beyond end-of-life care, Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield recently enhanced its hospice care benefits to help consumers access these services sooner, improving the total quality of care they receive.
Anthem’s employer-based and individual health plans now offer consumers 12 months of hospice coverage and will also cover hospice services concurrent with continued medical treatments to treat and/or potentially cure the illness. As with most health plans, palliative care such as hospice was previously only covered once curative treatments had been discontinued.
“Hospice can be a critically important resource as patients and their families deal with the hard decisions involved in a life-threatening diagnosis, including the decision to continue or curtail curative treatment,” said Phil Marshall, president & CEO of Hosparus Health.
“As Hosparus Health moves upstream to provide advanced illness care long before a patient requires hospice care, we know that we can improve the quality of life for the patient and their families. Over 50 percent of patients eligible for hospice often don’t take advantage of the benefit because they aren’t ready to stop treatments. Anthem has taken an exciting step by expanding the benefit and allowing treatments to continue. We believe this is a huge step in the right direction towards true patient-centered care,” said Marshall.
“At Anthem, we’re committed to offering consumers affordable access to quality healthcare services,” said Jeff Reynolds, MD, medical director for Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield in Kentucky. “Helping consumers benefit from hospice care earlier and reassuring them that seeking hospice services does not mean giving up on life can be incredibly powerful.”
Marshall said that Hosparus Health offers specialized, patient and family-centered care that optimizes quality of life throughout the process of illness, regardless of whether the patient has a terminal prognosis. These services anticipate, prevent and alleviate suffering and can be offered alongside care aimed at treating the disease itself.
“I see so many people going through life-threatening or terminal illness feeling lost, scared, isolated and confused; they end up accessing hospice care only in the last few days,” said Marshall. “It breaks my heart because hospice services could have helped them immeasurably.”
Hospice coverage on Anthem Medicare and Medicaid plans remain unchanged because these benefits are determined by the agencies that oversee them.