Home Health Services: Choosing the Right Care for Your Loved One
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This article discusses the benefits of home health care for family caregivers and the costs associated with it.
- Home health care can help older adults age in place and provide peace of mind for family members.
- Home health care costs vary by location and may not be covered by insurance.
- Medicare, Medicaid, and VA health care may cover some of the costs of home health care.
How can home health care help family caregivers?
Some older adults need in-home skilled nursing care, either temporarily (after being discharged from the hospital) or long-term, to manage an ongoing health condition.
Having a skilled nurse come to your parent’s home may help them age in place, rather than requiring them to move into a long-term care facility. Your parent may feel more comfortable in a familiar setting, which may have positive effects on their overall mood and interactions with people, including you.
If you live near your parent, you may get to spend more quality time together in your parent’s home. If you live a distance away, having in-home skilled nursing care may give you peace of mind that your parent is in good hands.
In-home skilled nursing services may help your parent stay in better health, and it may decrease the chances that they will need to be readmitted to the hospital after being discharged.
How much does home health care cost?
In most instances, home health care costs aren’t covered by insurance; you may have to pay out-of-pocket. Costs vary by location, but at-home skilled nursing care may range from $40 to $80 per hour.
If your parent has Medicare Part A or Part B, Medicare may cover the cost of skilled nursing care for a limited number of hours over a short time frame – usually 3 weeks or less. (Someone may be eligible for this type of care after a hospital stay, for example.) Only people who are homebound who are under the care of a doctor may be eligible, if a doctor certifies that they need one or more services, such as:
- Part-time skilled nursing care
- Physical therapy
- Occupational therapy
- Speech-language pathology services
Medicaid should cover in-home skilled nursing services for older adults who are aging in place and who have a medical need for these services. However, Medicaid is only available for people who have a financial need. The rates that Medicaid pay for home health care services vary by state.
Veterans who are signed up for VA health care may be able to get nursing and medical care services in their own homes, if the VA determines that there’s a medical need for the services. There may be a copayment.
In-home skilled nursing services may be covered by a long-term-care insurance policy, but each plan may have different coverage. If your parent doesn’t already have a long-term-care plan, it’s too late to get one.
How do I find home health care for my loved one?
Search online for your local Area Agency on Aging. The U.S. Administration on Aging’s Eldercare Locator can help you find the name, number and website for the one in your area. You should be able to find the names of local home health agencies that offer in-home skilled nursing services through that agency.
Medicare’s home health locator may help you find local home health agencies that offer in-home skilled nursing services that are Medicare-certified.
When you call individual home health agencies, ask questions like these to find the right fit for your parent’s needs:
- Is your agency licensed by the state?
- Are you able to accept Medicare, Medicaid or other types of insurance?
- When do nurses visit? What happens if my parent needs help in the middle of the night?
- Is it possible to request the same nurse at each visit if my parent likes someone particular?
- How often do nurses communicate with family members to give status updates or discuss problems?
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