With a growing aging population, home health care services may soon become the norm rather than the exception. Here’s what you need to know about them.
In this article:
- Home Health Care Services May Cover More Than Just Medical Needs
- Medicare Covers Some Aspects of Home Health Care
- Home Health Care Requires Strategizing and Early Planning
- There Are Different Kinds of Care Providers That Caters to Various Needs and Preferences
- Most Importantly, Be Kind to Yourself and Acknowledge You May Need Help in the Future
Home Health Care Services 101: What You Need To Know About Home Health Care
1. Home Health Care Services May Cover More Than Just Medical Needs
Sometimes, a retiree may need help with specialized services for daily living. These personal care and health services are part of what we call home health care.
In some cases, long term care is required, so retirees may find their retirement nest egg slowly depleting due to these unforeseen costs. With retirement income already under fire, home health care costs can lead to bad debts.
Home health care consists of, but is not limited to:
- In-home services, primarily for homebound patients
- Occupational therapy, for patients who need assistance
- Speech therapy, especially for those who are having difficulty communicating verbally
- Physical therapy, especially for those who have mobility issues
- Wound care, as sometimes the body can’t heal on its own and may need external assistance
- Skilled care, usually nursing care
- Palliative care, which deals with increasing the quality of life for diseases without any cure
For home health care to be formally recognized, a skilled professional sends a care plan, which is a medical document with a schedule. The care plan provides instructions for the amount of medication, schedule of therapy, and which care provider or agency will perform such tasks.
Your long term care insurance provider usually asks or even fills out the care plan. Some long term care insurance plans also help out with hospitalization costs if in-home care doesn’t meet the requirements for certain medical conditions.
However, in the absence of an insurance policy, retirees need to dig into their own pockets to pay for their needs.
Other areas that home health care can cover include:
- Day programs to alleviate boredom
- Home modification, to make in-home services possible if the patient can’t get out of their home
- Household maintenance, such as household chores like doing the laundry and gardening
2. Medicare Covers Some Aspects of Home Health Care
Medicare does cover Home Health Care, but with some limitations.
Part A (Hospital Insurance) and Part B (Medical Insurance) covers:
- Healthcare services by caregivers and aides, if care doesn’t cover the whole day
- Services by social workers, especially medical social workers, if the reason why services are needed is medical in nature
- Therapy for speech, physical, and occupational, as long as the care plan states it’s medically necessary or if it is a by-product of service, and not the only reason for the home health care services
- If you need skilled nursing care, whether part-time or if you’re staying at a skilled nursing facility, for a certain period
On the other hand, Medicare does not pay for:
- Custodial care services, which are daily activities that a patient needs. Also known as personal care, custodial care includes bathing, dressing, and eating.
- Meal delivery, even if it’s required by a doctor
- Homemaker assistance or programs, which refers to assistance in daily living like getting groceries, budgeting, and scheduling
- Round-the-clock home health care
General requirements for you to qualify include:
- You’re homebound, which means that you can’t get out of your house easily without assistance.
- Certification from a physician or medical professional
- The certification has a plan of care or care plan. The physician must review the care plan regularly.
- The medical certification comes from a face-to-face examination. The examination must be at least 90 days before to 30 days after the start of home health care.
- The health care agencies you employ have approval from Medicare.
Depending on your state, there are limitations and deductibles that can affect your retirement plan.
3. Home Health Care Requires Strategizing and Early Planning
We all have to accept that as we age, our bodies may degrade over time. While medical technology has grown by leaps and bounds, our bodies may not perform daily tasks without assistance efficiently.
Thus, it’s crucial to plan early and cover all bases when strategizing whether you may possibly need a home health care plan. A good home health care service strategy should consider:
- The ease of access to your home by care providers
- Flexibility and ease of improvements for modifying your home
- Your current medical status and possible complications
- Maintenance of your home and furniture, as well as cleanliness
- Availability of support, whether through relatives and friends or though care providers
- Budgeting home health care services, which can involve a long term care insurance policy or an IRA and nest egg for expenses
- Your accessibility, especially for emergency services and your friends and family
- Insights from your family, financial adviser, and your medical and financial power of attorney
While we can rely on friends and family to provide support, caregiving can lead to burnout and even pent-up frustration.
Good home health care also depends on your future location.
- Some retirees who are patients take advantage of this by modifying their homes as early as possible.
- Others prefer to simply live in a senior facility. This move can be quite expensive, but most insurance policies cover the stay.
- Having a good community can help, so some prefer a senior living facility. However, as we age, we might prefer living in our homes, so some daycare plans do exist to help us form bonds with other retirees.
Searching for the nearest or most popular care providers years before your retirement is also a great idea. Collating your medical records will also serve you, especially if you move to another location.
Putting your documents in check also makes retirement more convenient. In particular, picking and formally legalizing your medical and financial power of attorney in case of an emergency can help.
Important: Please ask for the opinions of not only your financial adviser and physician, but also from friends and family. They may be able to give you insights you may not know about yet, like quirks you’re not aware you have and suggestions that may help you.
The earlier you prepare for possible home health care, the more prepared you are for your retirement.
4. There Are Different Kinds of Care Providers That Caters to Various Needs and Preferences
- Independent providers are freelancers, usually a registered nurse or caregiver. While they’re typically cheaper than getting an agency, make sure first to check your insurance policy or Medicare if they will cover that nurse or caregiver.
- Healthcare agencies usually have state certification and a record of providing reliable services, but typically charge higher. Also, make sure that they’re certified by Medicare or your insurance policy.
- A retirement home provides board and lodging as well as other services for a fee. These homes typically don’t offer medical care, but some do.
- A skilled nursing facility is an approved location that provides medical services. They’re like a retirement home and hospital in one.
Understanding the benefits of each provider, as well as listing down three choices for each, can make your retirement easier.
Analyze whether you want to stay homebound or live in a nursing home and how it can affect your retirement. Home health care is crucial if you need it, and trying to get cheaper services may come back with ill consequences if they’re unfit for you.
5. Most Importantly, Be Kind to Yourself and Acknowledge You May Need Help in the Future
Very seldom do people want to think about the possibility of home health care when planning for their retirement.
Ignoring the issue can affect your quality of life and expenses during retirement, though. Ask your financial adviser as soon as possible what options are ideal for you.
Some investment companies are also insurance companies or at least have ties and promotions with each other. If you already have an investment, you can ask your custodian about it to potentially get a discount or other promotions.
Home health care services should always be in the back of your mind when it comes to retirement. It’s better to prepare now than experience a difficult life ahead.
Do you have any questions about home health care services? Do you already have it part of your retirement plan? Let us discuss this in the comments section below.
- Medicare Frequently Asked Questions
- Everything You Need To Know About Retirement Communities
- Investing In Marijuana Stocks: Everything You Need To Know