Palliative Care Frequently Asked Questions

Nurse talking about palliative and hospice care

Palliative Care (pronounced pal-lee-uh-tiv) is medical care focused on relieving the symptoms and stress of a serious illness—whatever the diagnosis. It is an extra layer of support to improve quality of life for patient and their families.

Palliative care is not always end-of-life care. Patients may continue curative or life prolonging treatments and move in and out of care as needed.

How is palliative care different from my current care?

Medical care is complex. Primary care doctors or specialists can't do everything. Palliative care targets physical, emotional, spiritual and practical needs that may need extra attention. The goals include:

  • Improving quality of life by helping patients gain strength, reduce stress and improve their ability to tolerate medical treatments.
  • Access to a team trained to listen and coordinate care so patients receive the care they want, especially during critical moments.
  • Practical and emotional support for families

How do I ask for a referral?

Talk to your doctor about ordering a palliative care consultation for you or someone you're caring for. If the doctor feels you may benefit from a consultation, he or she will request one.

Does insurance pay for palliative care?

Medicare, Medicaid and most private insurance plans cover all or part of

the palliative care consultation. If you have questions about coverage, call your insurance company or a local Compassus location.

How is care is different from hospice?

Palliative care is for people at any stage in their illness. The illness does not have to be life-threatening. Because of Medicare requirements, hospice is typically for patients with a life expectancy of six months or less. 

Who is on the palliative care team?

Care is provided by doctors, nurses, social workers, chaplains and others who coordinate with a patient’s medical team to ensure current needs are met and goals are set for care in the future.