Home healthcare can help you remain independent in your own home, even if you can no longer do everything for yourself. The types and levels of service available vary greatly, from weekly care visits to round-the-clock care. If you want a home care option but aren't sure if you can handle the costs, the following tips can help you fit it into your budget.
Tip #1: Check Your Medicare Benefits
Fortunately, Medicare benefits can cover a lot of your home healthcare needs. Generally, you are fully covered if you need skilled nursing care or skilled therapy care. Medicare will pay for up to 28 hours per week of this type of care. Medicare won't cover in-home health aide care, though, unless it is part of skilled nursing care. This means that if you only need personal care, such as help with hygiene, meal preparation, or help with occupational therapy, Medicare will not pay for it.
Tip #2: Medicare Supplement Plans
Choosing the right supplement plan to go with your Medicare coverage can be the key to having fully paid for in-home care services. Supplemental insurance typically covers the remainder of any bill that Medicare doesn't fully pick up. This means that Medicare must pay for some portion of the service. For example, you need around the clock in-home care but Medicare only covers 28 hours a week or 8 hours a day. The right supplemental plan will cover the remainder of the cost. If Medicare doesn't approve any in-home care, though, the supplement insurance may also opt not to offer any coverage. Check your supplemental plans carefully before depending on them to provide coverage.
Tip #3: Consider Longterm Care Coverage
The best time to purchase a longterm care policy is before you need it, but you can also seek coverage at a later date if necessary. This is because longterm coverage costs usually become greater if you sign on when you are older. Longterm coverage is specifically designed to cover home healthcare, whether you need skilled nursing care or a simple home health aide to help with daily life. Some health insurance policies offer longterm coverage as an additional rider, or you may be able to secure a policy at a discount through your or a spouse's employer.
Tip #4: Look Into Assistance Programs
There are also assistance programs available that can help pay for care. Medicaid, for example, is a federal program. There are strict income guidelines and limitations in order to qualify. There are also veteran's programs available to help offset the cost of home healthcare. There may also be elder care resources available locally, including discount and free coverage options. The key is that your doctor must prescribe home healthcare and they may need to submit paperwork on your behalf to verify that you need the services. Most hospitals have volunteers available to help you find the resources and assistance options available in your area, or your doctor can help connect you with a senior services agency that can provide help in navigating these programs.