Order photos

Searching for home health care just got easier

by | Aug 13, 2015 | Opinion

By Bob Moos/Southwest regional public affairs officer for the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services

Medicare has just begun publishing star ratings for home health care agencies to help consumers tell the good providers from the bad.

Medicare pays for health care you receive in the comfort and privacy of your home if you meet certain requirements. You must be homebound, under a physician’s care and in need of part-time skilled nursing care or rehabilitative services.

One in 10 people with traditional Medicare relies on home health services in a given year. A third of all home visits are for patients released from the hospital but still requiring attention. The other two-thirds are for people trying to stay out of the hospital in the first place.

Medicare’s website – www.medicare.gov – is a convenient place to begin your search for a home health agency. With a few clicks, you can compare the providers in your area, check on the types of services they offer and the quality of their care.

To help you understand the differences in quality between agencies, Medicare has added star ratings to its website. One star means “poor,” two stars are “below average,” three stars mean “average,” four stars are “above average,” and five stars mean “excellent.”

Medicare has posted star ratings for more than 9,000 home health agencies nationwide, based on such quality measures as how quickly home visits begin after a doctor authorizes them and how often a patient improves under the home-based care.

About half of Texas’ 1,694 rated home health agencies are performing at or above average levels. Statewide, 17 percent received four or five stars, while 32 percent rated three or 3.5 stars. The remaining 51 percent scored 2.5 stars or lower.

The current ratings are based on the providers’ work from last year and will be updated regularly. Medicare didn’t rate some agencies because they didn’t have enough patients to evaluate or because they had only recently started their businesses.

While very useful, the star ratings aren’t meant to be the final word on a provider’s quality of care. They’re simply a screening tool that helps you focus on a few facilities. Visit with your doctor and talk to family members and friends who have had home health care.

Understanding home-based care is essential to finding the agency that best fits your needs.

Your home care starts with your doctor’s decision that your illness or injury demands it. You may need a skilled nurse to give you IV drugs, shots or tube feedings, or to change dressings, or to teach you and your caregivers about newly prescribed drugs.

You also may require rehabilitative services, like occupational, physical or speech therapy, to become as self-sufficient as possible and regain your independence.

The home health agency you select will work with you and your doctor to develop a plan of care. That plan will detail the services you need, how often you should have them, who will provide them, and what results your doctor expects from your treatment.

To qualify for home health benefits, your nursing care must be part-time. Home health aides who help with bathing and dressing, as well as homemaker aides who clean or do laundry, may be covered, but only if they’re part of your overall plan of care.

Medicare pays 100 percent for your care as long as you’re eligible. It also pays for 80 percent of any medical equipment you need, such as a special bed or oxygen.

If you’re in Medicare’s traditional fee-for-service program and have questions about your home health care coverage, you can call Medicare at 1-800-633-4227. If you’re in a private Medicare Advantage health plan, you should consult that plan.

Home health care can be a blessing by speeding your recovery after a hospital stay or, even better, by allowing you to avoid the hospital altogether. The new star ratings at www.medicare.gov will help you make an informed choice.

Subscribe Love

0 Comments

Related News

Pet ownership: A lifetime commitment

Pet ownership: A lifetime commitment

He was crossing the road. Over and over. I was surprised someone hadn’t hit him with their car. I was also surprised the coyotes hadn’t gotten him. It was 9 o’clock at night and according to the residents of the small strip of country road, he’d been out there for a...

read more
Hold, please

Hold, please

It appears that telephone landlines may be on their way out. CNN Business reported that recently, AT&T applied for a waiver in the state of California to stop servicing traditional landlines. Both AT&T and Verizon have both said they want to move away from...

read more
Dewey or don’t we?

Dewey or don’t we?

On Christmas Eve 2008, there were just three of us working in the office. Well, technically, there was one of us working, the other two were there. A couple of the young ladies on staff either didn’t have enough vacation time built up or they were saving it for...

read more
A range of options

A range of options

My great grandparents lived on a homestead. They cooked on a wood stove. Most of us today have no idea how good we’ve got it. For my great grandparents’ generation, remodeling the kitchen meant picking a different place to stack the wood. By John Moore For more on...

read more
A word from our sponsors

A word from our sponsors

Commercials used to be great. They used to be an art form. They used to be fun. Today’s advertising is boring in comparison. Television commercials were something to which I looked forward when I was a kid. Some were better developed and more interesting than the...

read more
On the road again

On the road again

We often hear someone say they just want to leave the world a better place than they found it. That’s a great goal, but rarely is it the case. Unless you were Charles Kuralt. For those of us who grew up during his time on the CBS News segment, On The...

read more
The Walking Dad

The Walking Dad

It's obvious that I have to wait to die until after everyone else in my home goes. Otherwise, every light in the house will be left on for all of eternity. My dad used to say that I could leave on all of the lights whenever I started paying the bills. By John Moore...

read more
Small town living: some leave, some come back

Small town living: some leave, some come back

You learn things when you grow up in a small town. Things you don’t learn if you grow up anywhere else. Things that are special. I was born in a small town. But I didn’t stay. I left for the same reasons other folks leave their hometown. Education, better jobs, and...

read more
There’s ‘snow’ ice cream quite like it!

There’s ‘snow’ ice cream quite like it!

It didn’t snow much in Ashdown, Arkansas in the 1960s. It doesn’t snow there much now. But when it did, and when it does, kids there know exactly what to do. Beg their moms to make snow ice cream. By John Moore For more on this story see the December 21, 2023 print,...

read more
Sears catalog was ‘our’ Amazon in the 1950s and 60s

Sears catalog was ‘our’ Amazon in the 1950s and 60s

As a young kid, I thought that every family did exactly the same things ours did. That included what and how we did Christmas. Turned out, there were two ways to approach collecting your loot. That is to say, seeing what Santa brought. One, which was more traditional,...

read more
Subscribe Love