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Reviewed 6/13/2022

Home health care

True or false?

Each year, millions of people get skilled, professional healthcare services in their own homes. How much do you know about this important option for you or your loved ones?

Home health care can help people live independently for as long as possible.

True: The goal of home health care is to help people live independently, even with an illness or injury. Examples of home health care services include caring for wounds; giving injections or other medical treatments; monitoring an illness; and helping with activities of daily living, like bathing, dressing and eating.

Your primary care team needs to be involved in creating a home care plan.

True: Your primary care provider starts, coordinates and monitors the home health care process. They write an order certifying your need for services. They can refer you to a qualified home health agency. Then an agency staffer will make an appointment to visit you at home and talk about your needs. Once care begins, your home health care team should communicate regularly with your primary care provider.

You need to be bedridden to qualify for Medicare coverage for home health services.

False: Medicare rules are broader than that. Your doctor has to confirm that your health makes it difficult to go out and keeps you “confined to home.” You can still be considered “confined to home” if you go to the doctor’s office, attend a religious service, go to a special event like a family reunion or take a walk around the block.

Home health care is always a temporary service.

False: While home health is sometimes needed during a brief period while someone recovers from an injury or illness, other people benefit from getting home health services on an ongoing basis.

Home care is a good option for everyone.

False: Whether or not home health is the right choice can depend on a variety of factors. For example, if you need frequent testing, breathing treatments or IV medications, a medical facility might be a better choice. Home care may also not be a good option if your home doesn’t have room for the medical equipment you need. Cost may also be a factor, depending on your insurance coverage.

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Sources: American Geriatrics Society’s Health in Aging Foundation; Medicare; U.S. Administration on Aging

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