Learning that someone you love and care about needs in home healthcare services often brings on a flood of emotions. It’s normal to feel frightened, confused, and overwhelmed. There’s a lot to learn about the different types of care and how to pay for home healthcare.
It should ease your mind to learn that there are many more sources of funding for in home healthcare than you may think. You’ll also find comfort in knowing that many funding resources for in home services may cost you little or nothing out of your pocket.
There are still other funding resources for seniors who don’t qualify for federal, state or locally funded programs, but it’s important to know that some of them carry financial risk. Senior care or elder law attorneys and advisors can help you sort out the best options for your situation.
Differences Between Personal Care and Home Health Care
There are several different types of caregivers in the world of senior caregiving. It’s important for families to learn about various roles because their funding comes from different sources.
You’ll find that there are many names for personal care assistants including home care aides and custodial care aides. Others in the senior care arena call them personal care assistants or companionship aides. Personal care assistants help seniors with hygiene and grooming activities like bathing, housekeeping, getting dressed, and transportation.
Personal caregivers are self-employed, so they aren’t required to have any sort of certification, licensing, or insurance. The good news is that they charge 20-30% less than workers from home health care agencies and you can usually get them on short notice.
Medicare does not cover funding for personal caregiving alone, and most families use personal funds for this service.
Home Health Care
Home health care aides (HHA) are also called certified nurse aides (CNA), personal care aides (PCA), and geriatric workers. This type of care is considered skilled care. Home health care assistants perform duties like taking a pulse, temperature, or blood pressure as well as personal care. They assist with medication management, mobility equipment, and other medical equipment. They can also provide an even higher level of care.
Home health care aides typically work with home health care agencies that have state certification to bill under Medicare. Home health care aides are typically bonded, licensed, and insured.
Funding Resources for Home Health Care
Medicare and Veteran’s Administration
Seniors that need personal care and skilled care need to look for more than one source of funding for home health care. The two primary sources of funding for skilled senior care are through Medicare or the Veteran’s Administration. Home health agencies manage all the billing for you.
Some in home healthcare services may not be covered under Medicare or Veteran’s Administration coverage. Seniors with Medicaid coverage may need to bill for some medical services separately.
The federal government lends a helping hand to the states under the Older Americans Act and block grants.
The Older Americans Act offers funding to states for the Meals on Wheels program and congregate meals served in senior centers. This program also funds programs for health promotion, elder rights, and family caregiving support.
Costs for senior home health care range from reasonable to very high, depending on the needs of the senior. Elderly people can need assistance for many years. For these reasons, it’s best to maximize federal and state funding before tapping into personal finances.
There are several ways to finance uncovered costs including:
- Personal savings
- Long term care insurance
- Reverse mortgage
- Life insurance policy conversion
- Home care loans
- Home equity line of credit
Getting Professional Advice
Using personal funds, life insurance, and loans will have an impact on the senior’s estate and financial worth. It’s best to get professional advice regarding your options for using your personal funds.[vi] Public benefits counselors, geriatric care managers, eldercare resource planners, and attorneys can help you assess the senior’s financial assets and make the best decisions for your situation.
For seniors that have chronic health concerns and need ongoing personal and skilled care, a home health care agency is likely your best resource for putting together an overall care plan. They will help you understand the types of services that you need and how to pay for home healthcare. Remember that senior care is their business and they have the best resources for long-term planning. When in doubt, get professional advice.
While completing undergraduate work, the author Adinah East, worked with her grandmother, founder of Caring People, to learn about the homecare industry. Upon completion of her Master’s of Public Administration, East returned to the health care industry to positively impact the lives of the elderly and their caregivers. East now oversees the quality improvement initiatives at Caring People.