More than 1.7 million people in the U.S. were served through hospice care in 2020, the most recent reporting year. While patients receive high-quality medical and emotional support during end-of-life, many families need help with funeral expenses when the time comes. There are a few programs that can help.
Some state and local governments provide financial assistance for individuals in need. For example, Florida does not have a statewide program, but several counties provide assistance based on poverty guidelines. Likewise, Arizona does not offer state help with funeral costs. However, several counties provide assistance, such as Maricopa County, for low-income residents and victims of crime.
Medicaid is a joint state and federal program providing health coverage to low-income individuals. Although programs vary by state, Medicaid may offer state help with funeral costs for eligible hospice patients.
Federal Programs to Help with Funeral Costs
Several federal programs, including the Security Administration (SSA), Medicaid, and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), can provide financial support.
Social Security Administration
SSA offers a one-time death benefit to help offset funeral expenses for those eligible. To apply, contact your local SSA office.
If the hospice patient was a military veteran, families may be eligible for burial benefits from the VA. You can check with the VA to learn about benefits and how to apply.
Another Option for Funeral Expenses: Whole Body Donation
With traditional funeral costs averaging about $8,000 or higher and the average cost of cremation running between $2,000 and $4,000, most programs will fall short of covering the costs. For example, the SSA death benefit pays just $255.
Another option families of hospice patients may want to consider is whole-body donation. Beyond organ donation, body donations provide valuable human tissue to help in drug and device research and development, education and training of physicians and surgeons, and advancing medical research.
When you donate your body to science with United Tissue Network, UTN pays for all expenses, including transporting the body and cremation.
How to Donate Your Body to Science
For hospice patients in Arizona or Florida, families can register patients for pre-approval at United Tissue Network. At the time of passing, authorized family members can complete the registration. You will need to review the information about policies and procedures and sign consent forms. Donor Service coordinators are available to walk you through the process and answer your questions.
Once a donation is approved, United Tissue Network handles the expenses associated with donating a body to science, including transferring the body to a UTN facility, locating appropriate scientific testing, research, or training facilities, and cremating the remains. UTN works with organ donation groups to ensure all usable organs are directed to needy patients.
Hospice professionals can help families facilitate donating a body to science by discussing options with family members and helping them navigate through the registration and paperwork. When the time comes, hospice care facilities can coordinate the logistics of body donation to ease the burden on families, working with United Tissue Network to ensure remains are handled ethically and with dignity.
Body Donation Requirements
As a non-profit organization, UTN can often accept bodies that many for-profit organizations cannot. For example, upper age, cancer, and dementia patients may qualify. In most cases, the only condition that would disqualify someone is a history of communicable diseases, such as hepatitis or HIV.
Currently, United Tissue Network accepts bodies in Arizona and Florida for individuals older than 18. The medical history of potential donors is reviewed, and tests are conducted before bodies are provided to medical groups to ensure researchers can use the tissue safely and effectively.
Donating Your Body to Science
Donating a body to science is a selfless decision that can have long-lasting effects on society. There are scientific advancements and medical discoveries that can only be uncovered using human tissue. However, there is a significant lack of human tissue available. Donating your body to science can help resolve this shortfall and provide a legacy that can benefit future generations.
United Tissue Network is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization committed to furthering medical research and education through body donation. When you donate a body to science, you can have peace of mind of knowing you are contributing to medical science’s ethical advancement while receiving no-cost cremation services.
Learn more about donating your body to science by contacting United Tissue Network. You can call us at 1-877-738-6111 if you have questions.