In the United States, the home health care industry provides healthcare for millions of people. Each year, seniors have increasingly moved away from the long-term care facilities model, preferring instead to remain in their homes and to have caregivers visit them on a weekly or daily schedule. As a result, the home health care industry is booming and is expected to increase its market share dramatically in the coming years. Insurance for home health care providers is also on the rise, providing protection to the agency and its staff against risks common to the health delivery industry. For seniors, it is important to understand how to evaluate a home health care agency before hiring a caregiver. This can mean assessing the features, insurance, and services available by a given provider. In this guide, we’ll explore the most important questions for clients to ask before hiring a home health care agency, and how agencies can be prepared to answer them.
Home Health Care: The Service Variables
Each home health care agency is different, with individual agencies offering services that others do not. To begin the evaluation process, it can be valuable to understand the differences between agencies and their services. To begin, it goes without saying that not all people will need the same services. Some may only need assistance with daily household tasks, such as preparing meals, cleaning, or running errands. Others, particularly those recovering from an illness or surgery, may need additional care, which may include physical therapy, wound dressing, and help with medications.
The evaluation process begins with understanding the specific services a given agency can provide. Questions that clients will ask include:
- Will written care plans be provided before service commences?
- Will the agency and its caregivers work with family members and other healthcare providers?
- What emergency procedures are in place, including service delivery in cases of severe weather or natural disaster events?
- Will the agency provide a patient’s bill of rights, spelling out the rights and responsibilities of all stakeholders?
Qualifications of Home Health Care Providers
Now that the specific services have been identified and agencies have been contacted, the next step in the evaluation process is to learn about the agency’s and its caregivers’ qualifications. Most agencies are required by state and municipal law to be licensed before delivering care. In some cases, certain services may require certification or approval on the federal level. To verify licensing and certification, it is a good idea to contact the state’s health department.
Qualifications are also important for individual caregivers. To assess the agency and its quality of staff, questions include:
- What type of employee screening is done before hiring caregivers?
- What certifications or specific medical qualifications do individual caregivers possess?
- Can the home health care aide provide references from other patients as well as previous employers?
- What kind of ongoing training is required of caregivers, particularly in health and safety aspects?
Costs Associated with Home Health Care
Naturally, when evaluating whether to hire a home health care agency, issues of costs come up. Those seeking at-home care may be on a fixed budget and need to be prepared to cover expenses when bills are due. To evaluate the cost aspects of a home health care agency, it can be useful to have answers for the following questions:
- What expenses are included and excluded from the service package?
- What insurance plans are accepted?
- Are insurance claims handled by the agency or the person receiving at-home care?
- Are fees covered by Medicare?
- What resources are available through the agency for financial assistance if it is needed?
A good home health care agency will be able to provide written documentation for all services and fees as well as the costs associated with care delivery. If an agency cannot or will not provide such documentation, it may not be a good fit for the individual seeking care.
Insurance Considerations When Evaluating a Home Health Care Agency
Insurance for home health care providers is a vital part of the picture when evaluating an agency. This specialized form of insurance provides coverage for a wide variety of risks and liabilities and should be adequate to protect both the agency and its staff. Home health care industry covers such aspects as personal and professional liabilities, defense of license, privacy violations, and claims of abuse or neglect. Home health care agencies should be asked to provide documentation of their insurance coverages, including limits and exclusions. With these evaluation tools, individuals can make informed choices about their caregivers, ensuring compassionate and safe care for the long term.
About Caitlin Morgan
Caitlin Morgan specializes in insuring assisted living facilities and nursing homes and can assist you in providing insurance and risk management services for this niche market. Give us a call to learn more about our programs at 877.226.1027.