The U.S. health care system often puts dying patients and their families through a maze of care services and settings without providing much financial or emotional support.
Carmella Bocchino, an executive vice president at America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP), and Dr. Randall Krakauer, a vice president at Aetna (NYSE:AET), were two of the witnesses who talked about the bureaucracy and confusion that face dying patients today at a hearing on advanced care planning organized by the Senate Special Committee on Aging.
Krakauer urged senators to improve end-of-life benefits for patients in Medicare Advantage plans by changing the rules that govern use of hospice benefits.
Medicare managers should let enrollees who seem to have as many as 12 months to live use hospice benefits, Krakauer said.
Today, the cut-off is six months.
Medicare also should let more patients get the emotional support hospice programs provide by letting patients get hospice treatment along with hospice, Krakauer said.
Aetna already provides those program rules for commercial health plan enrollees who appear to have fewer than 12 months to live, and, for those patients, it also provides coverage for an unlimited number of hospice inpatient days and eliminate outpatient hospice dollar limits, Krakauer said.