Palliative Care FAQ

We understand the distinction between palliative care, hospice care and other types of medical care and treatment can be confusing. The information below helps to outline the benefits of palliative care and who it's most appropriate for. Please always feel free to contact us or talk with your physician if you think palliative care might help you or a loved one.

How do I know if I would benefit from palliative care?

Many people who are facing serious or life-threatening illnesses experience physical discomfort and emotional distress related to their condition. Patients and families must make difficult decisions regarding goals for medical treatment or non-treatment, advance directive choices, and desires for care within a private home or an extended care facility.

Spiritual concerns, financial decisions, and feelings of grief also weigh heavily on the minds of patients and their loved ones. IU Health Bloomington Palliative Care recognizes the emotional struggles that our patients endure, and we are specially trained and prepared to assist in whatever way we can to best serve our patients’ needs.

How is palliative care different from the medical care I am already receiving?

Traditional medical care focuses on treating a medical diagnosis. Palliative, which means “relieving” or “soothing,” focuses on the impact of an illness on a patient and family. Special attention is paid to quality of life concerns including physical, emotional, and spiritual discomfort.

Can palliative care help with symptoms like pain, shortness of breath, and stomach upset?

Yes, our team has special interest and skills in relieving any distressing symptoms that you or your loved one may be experiencing.

Does palliative care replace my current physician or treatment plan?

No, palliative care is provided in addition to the care and treatment you are already receiving. Our team collaborates with your healthcare providers to help you achieve the best quality of life possible while undergoing the treatment that you need.

Does insurance pay for palliative care?

Yes. Medicare, Medicaid and other insurance plans will generally cover palliative care services you receive in or out of the hospital.

My family and I need help understanding my condition and discussing options for my care. Can palliative care help me?

Absolutely. Our palliative care team can meet with you and your family to provide education about your condition and its impact on your quality of life while also helping you understand your treatment options.

Is there a difference between palliative care and hospice?

Palliative medicine and hospice are closely related, and we understand how confusing it can be to differentiate between these two models of care.

Hospice is actually a specific type of palliative care geared toward the final months of life. Think of it this way, hospice care is reserved for people with a life expectancy of six months or less, should their illness follow its usual course. Curative treatments are not continued once a patient is enrolled in hospice.

Palliative care is available to anyone diagnosed with a serious condition, and this type of care can begin at any stage in the illness, even upon onset. It can be initiated long before a patient needs end-of-life care. Americans are living longer with many advance chronic illnesses and need relief of their pain and symptoms so that they can enjoy a good quality of life for as long as possible.

More information about the benefits of palliative medicine can be found at