What is home health care?

Home health care is an excellent, cost-effective alternative to hospital or other institutional care. Service is based on the individual's need as defined by his or her physician's plan of care and may range from 24-hour-a-day care to monthly visits from skilled nurses, therapists, social workers and/or home health aides.

What are the advantages of home health care?

In many cases, home health care permits a person to be discharged earlier from a hospital, reduces hospital admissions, assists with a more rapid recovery. Most importantly, people are happier at home and receive more care and attention from family, friends and home health care professionals.

Who uses home health care?

People of all ages use home health care services-from senior citizens to young children.
Some examples include:
- those who are able to be discharged from a hospital or nursing home but need additional care
- those who are terminally ill and want to live their final days with dignity surrounded by their loved ones
- those who have short-term health needs
- those who need assistance, due to age or disability, to remain at home
- those who need education about the disease process and training on how to best care for themselves

What types of professionals comprise the home health care team?

The home health care team consists of physicians, nurses, home health aides, medical social workers and therapists who coordinate care based on an individual's needs.

Who pays for home health care services?

Medicare, Medicaid or other health insurances may cover the cost of home health care services. Some insurance policies will not cover all home health care services unless certain conditions are met. You can still obtain care without insurance coverage through a private duty agency on a private pay basis. Additionally, some agencies may have funding to help people who cannot afford the private pay option. The home health care agency will be able to assist in determining if the services you need are covered or if you need to make other arrangements.

How does service begin?

A physician, patient or family member can initiate service. However, Medicare, Medicaid and most insurances require physician oversight. Once the physician prescribes home health care, he/she authorizes a coordinated treatment plan, commonly called a "plan of care," and periodically reviews services and the patient's progress.
If a physician does not prescribe home health care, but the individual still desires services, a private duty agency can suggest a plan of care to meet a wide variety of needs and budgets. While some insurances may pay for private duty services, typically, they are an out-of-pocket expense.