Curative care refers to health care practices that treat patients with the intent of curing them, not just reducing their pain or stress. An example is chemotherapy, which seeks to cure cancer patients.
The issue of curative care comes up when a patient has a terminal illness and is considering hospice care. Medicare covers hospice care, but a patient who has switched to Medicare’s hospice benefit will only have palliative care coverage for their terminal illness — curative care would not be covered. So a patient with terminal cancer can opt for Medicare’s hospice benefit, but would have to cease chemotherapy and instead receive care designed to provide comfort and alleviate pain.
But that doesn’t mean they won’t have coverage for any curative care. If they experience a medical problem that’s not related to the terminal illness, Medicare will cover curative care for that issue, subject to the applicable deductible and/or coinsurance.
And Medicare beneficiaries have the option to stop their hospice benefit at any point and return to regular Medicare coverage. So if a patient decides that they’d rather continue to seek curative care instead of palliative care, they have that choice.