Home health care is defined as rendering predominantly medically-related services to patients in a home setting rather than in a medical facility. Basically, the home care practitioner will help patients increase their ability to tend to their everyday needs at home. Home health care may include skilled nursing in addition to speech, occupational and physical therapy. In many cases, it includes assistance with cooking and other household chores. It also includes monitoring the patient's prescriptions.
Throughout the United States, agencies have been created to provide patients with home health care. They are, for the most part, licensed to render care by the state and they provide continuity of service that most individuals cannot. Or the patient can bypass agencies and hire an individual provider. Either way, the patient or the family should be cautious in choosing the right professional for the job.
By far, Medicare pays the lion's share of costs of home health care because it most often involves the elderly. And, as the largest segment of senior citizens in United States history begins to use these services, the need for skilled professionals will outstrip the supply. It is estimated that by 2025, more than 20 percent of the country's population will be over 65 years old. Many of those people will require some level of home health care.
There are many procedures that must be done in medical facilities like hospitals and skilled nursing homes. It is much more economical to render them at home with the help of a home health care professional. In addition, recent studies show that patients who are surrounded by their family and friends, in a familiar setting, while receiving these services make faster progress.
Since Medicare will pay only 80 percent of a subscriber's medical costs, most people believe that it will cover home health care to the same extent. Actually, once it is approved, Medicare will pay the full amount for all covered home health care visits. Furthermore, Medicare will pay for all the home health care services of a patient, regardless of how long it is rendered, as long as the plan of care is reviewed by a doctor at least every 60 days.
Because of the virtual explosion in the home health care business, it is attracting many unqualified people. Whether you plan to contact an agency or hire a health care professional directly, show caution in making your selection. If you plan it use an agency, ask how long it has been rendering services. Ask if it has been certified by Medicare. And, whether you are using an agency or hiring someone directly, ask them to describe how they will go about designing a medical regimen for the patient.
Bill Herrfeldt specializes in finance, sports and the needs of retiring people, and has been published in the national edition of "Erickson Tribune," the "Washington Post" and the "Arizona Republic." He graduated from the University of Louisville.