Who pays for palliative care?
It is important to find out as soon as possible who pays for what and where to find help with palliative care costs. Most costs are normally covered by Medicare. Private health insurance may also be an option. However, this may not always be the case. You can ask your doctor and health care team.
Sometimes there will be other costs and considerations depending on where care is provided:
- There may be costs attached to services being provided in your home or in the community.
- There may be limits to length of stay in hospital or hospice. This may depend on the health insurance policy and the hospital. If you are not sure about what is covered, talk to your health care provider.
- Your illness may affect your ability to continue working. This may mean changes to household income. Your role in the family finances may change.
- Your private health fund may include cover for home nursing. This may be part of your hospital cover. This means that you can be treated by a nursing service as a private patient.
- Domiciliary Care and Home Care groups can sometimes provide equipment. They may also provide care support in the home, and fees may apply. If equipment is not available, they can recommend private hire agencies at reasonable rates. Some health funds may also cover some of this cost.
- If you need an ambulance, it will cost money in some states, but not in others. Don’t be afraid to ask about the cost of these services. It is better to know in advance than receive an unexpected bill. Ambulance cover is available in some states and may be an option.
Your carer may be eligible for a Carer Payment. This is provided to someone who is caring full time and unable to work or seek employment.
Carer Allowance may be an option. This is provided when a person is providing full time care to someone with a severe medical condition.
Eligibility for both payments needs an assessment by a doctor or a nurse. Social workers can help with this. More information on government payments is available from Centrelink.
Getting help and advice
You may sometimes have financial problems. If so, you need to get help and advice early. The following may help:
- It is important to get advice from a licenced financial advisor
- Banks, credit unions and building Societies have financial planners
- Many unions have advisors. They may be able to help with superannuation or personal leave entitlements
- Superannuation funds provide access to advice
- Personal accountants can be an important source of advice
- A social worker can also provide advice. They are at hospitals, palliative care services or community health services.
It is important that you and your partner both have access to bank accounts. This helps to ensure financial security for you both. Consider obtaining legal advice. You might wish to have an Enduring Power of Attorney. This means you can appoint someone to make financial decisions for you. They can use your bank accounts and pay your bills. They can also sell or buy property or shares on your behalf.
Various resources and organisations provide practical help and advice to help with finances during and after an illness. Here we list some of them.