Home Health Care
For persons who need medical assistance but dont
require hospitalization or nursing home care, home health care services
offer a cost-effective alternative that allows patients to remain in
the comfort of their own home without foregoing the treatment they need.
There are two types of at-home care, typically provided
to older, disabled or convalescent patients: skilled care and supportive
The Role of Home Health Agencies
Home health agencies provide and help coordinate
the care and/or therapy your doctor orders. Services, given by a variety
of health care professionals, include skilled nursing care as well as
other skilled services such as physical and occupational therapy, speech-language
therapy, and medical social services.
Working with the doctor, the home health agency
creates a written plan for your care. It tells what services you will
get to help you reach and keep your best physical, mental, and social
well being. The agency staff keeps your doctor up-to-date on how you
are doing and updates your care plan as needed.
The goal of short-term home health care is rehabilitation.
It helps you get better, regain your independence, and become as self-sufficient
as possible. The goal of long-term home health care (for chronically
ill or disabled people) is to maintain your highest level of ability
or health, and help you learn to live with your illness or disability.
Home health care is provided by various private
profit- or non-profit agencies, hospitals or public health departments.
The consumer has the right to choose his or her home care company. Private
agencies are the most common providers.
Supportive services include assistance with personal
needs such as walking, bathing, dressing and so forth, as well as with
chores such as shopping, making meals, light housekeeping. Such services
are typically provided by agencies specializing in Companion/homemaking.
Geriatric care managers specialize in helping the
elderly and their families identify their needs and fashioning and coordinating
a plan that makes the best use of all available resources.
Medicare Coverage of Home Health Care
Medicare, Medicaid, and most private insurance plans
cover some medically necessary home health care. If you meet certain
conditions, Medicare covers part-time skilled nursing care, physical
therapy, occupational therapy, speech-language therapy, home health
aide services, medical social services, durable medical equipment (such
as wheelchairs, hospital beds, oxygen, and walkers), medical supplies,
and other services.
A booklet, Medicare and Home Health
Care, (available at www.medicare.gov or at libraries) explains in more
detail what Medicare covers, and has other important information about
home health care and payment issues. If you have other insurance, check
your policy to see what is covered. You can pay out-of-pocket for services
that arent covered by insurance. Personal care and support services
may be covered by insurance if you are also getting covered skilled
care, such as nursing care or physical therapy.
Read more about
life after 65