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Options to Age at Home

Models and Payment Options of In-home Care Providers

Private Duty/Private Pay Services

Private duty/private pay services are usually paid directly by the patient or his or her family members. Long-term care insurance, workers’ compensation and some armed services funding may cover private duty/private pay services if the agency qualifies for reimbursement under the policies, and if the recipient has the policies.

Private duty services are usually mostly “non-medical” services and can range from companionship to housekeeping, transportation, personal care, dementia care to 24-hour or respite care.

  • Full Service Agencies provide non-medical care by employees of the agency who are screened, trained, monitored and usually bonded and insured. There is far more safety in this model, and far less potential liability for the care recipient than with a nursing registry.
  • Nursing Registries/Healthcare Registries act as a “matchmaker” service, assigning workers to clients and patients who need home care. However, registries place the responsibilities of managing and supervising the worker on the patient, a family member, or a family advisor. Supervision, monitoring, government-mandated taxes, and workers’ compensation coverage usually fall on the consumer and oftentimes the workers are not trained.

Home Health Care

Home Health Care is skilled nursing care and certain other health care services one receives in a home setting for the treatment of an illness or injury. Examples are care for a wound (dressing changes), injections, monitoring of health conditions like diabetes or blood pressure or heart disease, assistance with medical equipment like dialysis, assistance with an indwelling catheter, assistance with a naso-gastric (NG) tube feeding or a ventilator.

Home Health Care can also provide rehabilitation services: speech, physical and respiratory therapies. Examples are exercises to improve the range of motion of arms and legs, physical therapy following an injury to improve functioning of the injured body part, speech therapy or help swallowing which might be due to a stroke, Parkinson’s disease or ALS, and respiratory therapy.

Medicare pays for some of the care in a patient’s home only if all four of the following conditions are met:

  • patient must need intermittent (and not full time) skilled nursing care, physical therapy, The speech/language pathology, or continuing occupational therapy.
  • patient is homebound — normally unable to leave home and leaving home is a major effort. When The the patient does leave home, it must be infrequent and for a short time. The patient may attend religious services. The patient may leave the house to get medical treatment, including therapeutic or psychosocial care. The patient can also get care in an adult day-care program licensed or certified by a state or accredited to furnish adult day care services. NOTE: If patients are too tired when they get to a facility for treatment (rehab) or testing (blood tests) or education (diabetic teaching class) to do the work, then home health care is covered to bring treatment to them. It is important to remember that the reason for the patient to be homebound (arthritis, paralysis, etc.) may not be the main focus of care (wound care, monitoring medications after hospitalization for cardiac problems, and the most popular—treatment for Congestive Heart Failure).
  • The care must be referred by a doctor and medically reasonable and necessary. It must be related to the problems encountered and the care plan must address realistic outcomes. The plan and care needed must show potential for an improvement in the patient’s health/activities of daily living.
  • The home health agency caring for the patient must be approved by the Medicare program

If the conditions for eligibility are met, Medicare will pay for the following services in the patient’s home when they are medically reasonable and necessary.

  • Intermittent skilled nursing and home health aide services
  • Physical therapy/speech therapy/occupational therapy
  • Medical social services
  • Medical supplies
  • Durable medical equipment, such as wheelchairs, hospital beds, oxygen and walkers

Hospice Care

Hospice Care is a special concept of care designed to provide comfort and support to patients and their families when a life-limiting illness no longer responds to cure-oriented treatments. Hospice is generally depicted as end-of-life care and can be in a home or a hospital setting, but it is usually required that someone be with the dying patient at all times. How a family accomplishes this is up to the individual and the family. Hospice entails a range of services from nurses and mental health professionals to spiritual advisors.

Hospice coverage is widely available—offered by most private insurance providers and through Medicare nationwide, and as an optional Medicaid service covered by most states. Also, hospice sometimes has grants allocated to supplement
Hospice Medicare provisions which cover some private duty services. These services are funded by public funds, are not considered private duty, and are geographically specific. Querying each hospice location is needed to determine if these services are available.

Additionally, most hospices will provide for anyone who cannot pay using money raised from the community or from memorial or foundation gifts.

Medicaid Home and Community Based Care

Medicaid Home and Community Based Care is intended to provide services for those who cannot afford to pay for care with the goal of keeping the person out of a nursing home. Recipients do not need to be homebound or ill to receive the services. To access Medicaid services, the client must first be assessed by a state agency that gate-keeps the program and be approved for a specific number of home care hours or given a voucher for a certain amount of care.

Medicaid is funded by a Federal/State partnership. Coverage criteria and covered services are determined by each state. If the patient is mutually eligible, both Medicare and Medicaid can be payment sources with Medicare usually the primary payer and Medicaid secondary. Medicaid payments for home care are divided into three main categories:

  1. the mandatory traditional home health benefit, and two optional programs
  2. the personal care option
  3. home- and community-based waivers

Depending on the state, the vouchers can be used to pay individuals, agencies or registries

Geriatric Care Management

Geriatric Care Management entails personal, daily money as well as household management that falls outside of the services of a direct care provider. Other services care managers provide fall into categories that bridge the gaps between direct care and ongoing care needs, which may include coordinating medical and other care providers, family communication, or assisting a move into another living arrangement and the closing up of a household. Payment is generally out of pocket for professional services, invoiced by the hour or by the project.

Every patient’s situation is different. Relevar Home Care will gladly assist in determining which payment option would best suit a person’s specific situation.

Web Resources

Home Safety
U.S. News offers a home safety checklist to help determine how safe an elderly person’s home environment is for aging in place safely.

Home Design
AARP provides an assortment of useful and up-to-date resources for aging in the comfort of one’s home, including information on universal design, retrofitting a home to age in place, links to certified aging in place specialists, and more.

Aging in Place Technology Watch
This website monitors and reports on all breaking technology news concerning seniors and aging independently at home.

Personal Emergency Response – Alert Systems 101 gives a detailed overview of personal emergency response systems questions to keep in mind before purchasing this technology.

Help Guide
Helpguide’s mission is to empower people to understand, prevent, and resolve health challenges. From mental and emotional health, to family relationships, to healthy living, this site has information.

National Association of Professional Geriatric Care Managers
Professional Geriatric Care Managers (PGCMs) are health and human services specialists who help families care for older relatives, while encouraging as much independence as possible. Use this site to learn more about the services of Geriatric Care Managers or to find a Geriatric Care Manager in your area.

American Association for Long Term Care Insurance
The national professional organization exclusively dedicated to promoting the importance of planning for long-term care needs has a consumer Web site that is full of information relating to purchasing long term care insurance..