By Robert Hayes, President and General Counsel of Medicare Rights Center
Picking the right home health care agency is critical in helping your loved one receive the best care possible. Before you sign up with an agency, make sure you know what kind of services your loved one needs and how they can be covered.
Home health care can comprise skilled care services from a licensed nurse or therapist, custodial services (cooking, cleaning), and/or personal care services (feeding, bathing). If your loved one meets certain criteria, Medicare may cover skilled care and some personal care at home, but never covers custodial care.
Medicaid, other programs, and long-term care insurance can cover other types of home care and may help fill coverage gaps if your loved one does not qualify for Medicare-covered home care.
To begin your search for an agency:
Then, call the agency directly. Find out:
- What kind of care does the agency provide?
- What is the cost of services (in writing)?
- Is the agency certified to take Medicare or Medicaid as payment?
- Does the agency offer discounted service to people with limited means?
- How does the agency decide what kind of services your loved one needs? Will they talk to your loved one’s doctor?
- Who would come to the house (a nurse, home health aide, etc.)? How much training has this person had?
- Does the agency have references for itself and staff?
Make appointments to meet in person with representatives of your selected agencies.
For more information, visit Medicare Interactive at www.medicarerights.org/help.html.