Many health care experts now recommend beginning palliative care for people with serious, life-threatening illnesses at diagnosis and continuing through treatment, follow-up care and the end of life. Fortunately, this type of care is now available in most large U.S. hospitals.
If a member of your health care team does not initiate the discussion, ask the doctor or nurse whether there is a palliative care specialist on staff. Lists of providers are also available through the Center to Advance Palliative Care (www.getpalliativecare.org/providers) and the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization (www.nhpco.org).
Medicare, Medicaid and most private insurers and HMOs provide at least some coverage for both hospice and non-hospice palliative care. Discuss any concerns about health care costs with your doctor, medical social worker or the business office at your hospital or clinic. You can also contact your State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP; www.shiptalk.org) for free health insurance counseling, including personalized help with claims, billing, appeals, making coverage decisions and finding resources.