What Is Home Health Care?
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With so many options for home health care, it can feel like an impossible task to select the best professionals for the care of yourself or your loved one. Fortunately, we’re here to help take some of the uncertainty out of the process and help you choose the best kind of care for your needs.
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Find Home Health Care Near You
One of the most common questions we’re asked is “how can I find qualified home health care near me”? Luckily, there are plenty of different options available throughout the country. If you live in or near a metropolitan area, there are likely to be over a hundred different home care solutions available to you.
To navigate the broad range of different options you’ll have, it helps to evaluate your needs first, so it will be easier to narrow your search. The questions below will serve as a starting point for the type of care you’ll need.
- Do you or your loved one need someone who can provide advanced medical care? Or, are you just looking for a part time aide to help with everyday tasks around the home?
- Is your insurance provider covering the cost of care, or will you be responsible for paying the bill privately? If your insurance provider is covering the cost, you’ll likely need to choose one of the home health care agencies from their list of in-network providers.
- How many hours of care do you require each week?
Once you have the answers to the questions above, you can begin to narrow down your options and begin searching for the health care provider that is the best fit for your needs.
Home Health Care Services
When it comes to home care services, different agencies can provide a broad range of care. Depending on your individual needs, you’ll know which type of services are best for your situation.
Typical services provided by a home health care professional can include:
- Basic, intermediate or advanced medical care
- Administering of medications
- Medical testing
- Wound care
- Recreational therapy
- Rehabilitative therapy
Services provided by a home care aide are different, and they don’t focus on medical care. The types of things you can expect from a home care aide can include:
- Transportation services
- Other basic services like medication reminders or help to pay bills
It’s not uncommon for you or your loved one to have both a home health professional, as well as a home care aide. In fact, many agencies work in concert with both types to provide you with comprehensive care.
When to Utilize Home Health Care
For many of us, it can be difficult to decide when and if care is truly necessary. For many older adults, hiring a home care professional is a difficult step that can sometimes feel like a loss of freedom and independence. However, home care is vital in certain situations. To determine whether you or your loved one requires advanced home care, it can be helpful to ask the following questions:
- Do you require complex medical care at home?
- Do you have difficulty following your doctor’s orders for at home treatment?
- Do you have a history of medical issues or hospital visits?
- Do you regularly need further instruction regarding your medications, diet, or treatment plan?
- Were you diagnosed with a potential life threatening or a terminal condition?
- Do you have a condition that requires constant monitoring, such as high blood pressure or diabetes?
- Do you take new medications, or were your medications recently adjusted?
- Are you finding it difficult to keep up with basic tasks such as cooking, cleaning, bathing or managing a checkbook?
If you answered yes to some, many, or all of these questions, then you are probably a strong candidate for at home health care.
Requirements for In Home Health Care
When it comes to home care assistance, there aren’t any requirements as far as who can or cannot receive care. If you believe you’re in need of home health care, and you can afford to pay for it, you can purchase the care you want. But, most people rely on their insurance company to cover the cost of in home health care, and in those cases, yes, there are requirements for care.
These requirements differ widely based on your insurance company and the level of insurance they provide to you. In most cases, insurance companies will cover all of the costs associated with home health care (or at least most of the costs) provided that the patient has received prior authorization from their primary care physician.
Some insurance companies will also cover the cost of non-clinical home care. However, many do not. For example, Medicare does not pay for personal care or homemaking services, or meals delivered to your home. They also do not pay for round-the-clock care at home.
Refer to your insurance policy to learn exactly what kinds of services that your insurance company covers, and what kind of requirements you must meet for the insurance company to pay for those services. If you’re having trouble understanding your policy, or you aren’t sure where to start, your best bet is to call and speak with a representative for your insurance company. They’ll be able to tell you in detail what you are and aren’t qualified for.
How to Pay for Home Health Care
In nearly all cases, your insurance company will pay for most or all of your required home health care. For example, if you have Medicare, home health care will be paid entirely by Medicare.
Most private insurance companies require you to pay a deductible before your insurance kicks in.
For example, if you have a $2,000 deductible for the year, your insurance company will require you to pay the first $2,000 of any covered services which you require. Once you have met that deductible, your insurance kicks in, and pays all additional expenses.
Many insurance companies will only provide coverage for home health care, and will not cover non-clinical home care for things such as housekeeping services. In these cases, those services would have to be paid for out of pocket by the individual. On the bright side, these kinds of non-covered services are almost always tax deductible.
Is Home Care Different than Home Health Care?
Yes, very much so. Since these terms sound so alike, they’re often used interchangeably despite the fact that they mean two distinctly different things. The common bond that home care and home health care share is that they both take place in the home. But, these two forms of in home senior care diverge significantly from there.
Home care is non-clinical, meaning that there’s no medical basis for this care. Home care aides help with the day to day tasks older adults must complete to live their lives. This can include things like trips to the store, bathing, reminders to take medicine, cooking and cleaning, help with paying bills and general companionship.
Home care aides are usually skilled in the sense that they know and understand the nuances of senior care. However, they don’t possess any advanced medical knowledge and should not be considered for advanced home care situations that require things like round-the-clock nursing support.
Unlike home health care, many insurance companies do not cover these types of services, and as a result, they must be paid for by the individual out of pocket.
Home health care is a medical service that’s typically administered by nurses, physical therapists, occupational therapists or other skilled medical professionals. Most often, home health care serves as a rehabilitation program after an older adult has been released from the hospital after an injury, medical emergency or operation.
Home health care professionals provide therapy and skilled nursing services. They can administer medications, monitor changes in patient’s health, clean and dress wounds and perform medical tests. Unlike home care professionals, they focus on providing medical care, instead of personal or social care.
Home health care services are usually covered by insurance, including Medicaid and Medicare. In rare instances where these services are not covered by insurance, they would be paid for privately as an out of pocket expense.
Choosing a Home Health Care Agency
Choosing the right agency for you or your loved one is a very important decision, and with so many home care agencies available, it can feel like an overwhelming and difficult decision to make.
As you’re evaluating different home health care agencies, consider asking the questions below. These questions will help you to decide which agency is going to be the best fit for you or your loved one.
- How long has the agency been in business?
- Are they Medicare certified?
- Are they specialized in one area, or do they provide a wide range of services?
- Can the agency meet any special needs you or your loved one may have?
- Does the agency perform background tests on their staff?
- Does the agency offer it’s aides benefits and malpractice insurance?
- Does the agency have supervisors who regularly evaluate the performance of their aides, nurses or therapists?
- What procedures do they have in place in the event of an emergency?
- Are aides available 24/7/365? Do they guarantee coverage if your usual aide is ill, has an emergency, or goes on vacation?
- Can they furnish quality references?
- Does the agency provide written documentation of the care that’s being administered?
- Does the agency provide written statements detailing the various costs of treatment?
These questions are a great starting point, but you’ll likely have other questions, as well. Make sure to conduct a thorough and complete assessment of any agency you speak to. That way, you’ll be able to make sure you’re opting for the absolute best option available to you.