Frequently Asked Questions

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What is Home Health Care?

Home health care is a very personalized form of delivery in health care.  A treatment plan is developed for each individual patient.  By working in the patient's own home environment, the health care provider can gain valuable insights to improve treatment and help the patient live a healthier, more independent life at home.

Doctors are recognizing that a less intrusive environment such as the home is more cost-effective, convenient, and sets the stage for better outcomes.  Home health care offers a broad range of professional services which include Skilled Nursing, Physical Therapy, Occupational Therapy, Speech Therapy, Social Workers, and Home Health Aides. Patient and family education are an important part of home health care.  The involvement of the patient and family members in the treatment plan often improves the effectiveness of the plan.

When is Home Health Care appropriate?

Home health care is appropriate when someone has been hospitalized and continues to need care after discharge to home.  Home health care serves as a bridge between the hospital and complete return to normal functioning and self-care.

Home health care is appropriate when someone has had a significant change in a medical condition that, even though it did not require hospitalization, would benefit from ongoing assessment and treatment by a nurse or therapist.

Today, patients are discharged from the hospital “quicker and sicker” and home health care allows them to continue receiving assistance, treatments and therapy.  Home health care is a safe and less costly alternative to going to a rehab facility or nursing home.

Who is eligible for Home Health?

  • The service must be ordered by a physician
  • The patient must be homebound
  • The services must be reasonable and necessary for the treatment of the illness or injury
  • The patient needs to have seen the physician 90 days before or 30 days after the start of home health care services

What does “Homebound” mean?

  • Normal inability to leave home without a considerable taxing effort
    • Some examples:
      • Needs help of another person to leave home
      • Needs assistive devices to leave home
      • Needs special transport
      • Leaving home creates symptoms (eg shortness of breath, pain, anxiety, confusion, fatigue)
  • Patient with psychiatric conditions which would put them at risk to leave the home unattended
  • Homebound status is not affected by absences from the home due to medical services that cannot be provided in the home
  • Homebound status is not affected by brief and infrequent absences from the home for non-medical reasons
    • Some examples:
      • Adult day programs
      • Outpatient medical care
      • Religious services
      • Dialysis
      • Barber/Beauty Parlor

Does Medicare cover Home Health Care?

Yes, Medicare covers skilled nursing, physical therapy, speech-language therapy, occupational therapy, medical social services, and home health aide services in the home if the patient meets certain criteria. The care must be provided on a part-time intermittent basis, be reasonable and necessary to treat the illness or injury. The patient must be under the care of a physician. The patient must be homebound. Currently there is no co-pay for Medicare Home Health and Medicare Home Health is exempt from a deductible.

How would I get Home Health started?

Consult your physician regarding a request for a home health evaluation, then choose a home health agency. It would be wise to compare and check the outcomes of several home health agencies before you sign up. You can do that at www.medicare.gov.