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Choosing A Provider

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healthcare Choosing A ProviderAnne Osmer Reporting

Choosing a home health care provider for your loved one is serious business. You want to find a well-run agency – one that will work with you and your family to provide the best care possible – while minimizing headaches related to billing and other administrative details. 

A good place to start is by asking a trusted doctor, hospital, social worker or discharge planner, and friends and family for ideas. You can also check with your local Area Agency on Aging, senior centers, your local telephone directory or the Yellow Pages for listings of providers. 

Once you have a few agencies to choose from, check them out at the Home Health Compare database on the Medicare Web site. The database provides important information such as Medicare-covered services provided, as well Home Health Quality Measures that can help you compare home health agencies. 

The measures are based on information provided by each agency about patients’ health, and whether the patients’ ability to perform basic daily activities is maintained or improved through the agency’s services. Another source for agencies is the National Association for Home Care & Hospice Agency Locator. This database provides basic information such as agency names and contact information.

 
 
Questions to ask when choosing a home health care agency:
 
  • Is the agency Medicare certified? 
  • Does it offer the services I need (such as skilled nursing care or physical therapy)? 
  • Does the agency offer the personal care needs I need (such as help with using the bathroom and basic grooming)? 
  • Can the agency start when I need them? 
  • Who recommended the agency? 
  • How long has the agency been serving the community? 
  • Does the agency have staff available evenings and weekends, if necessary? 
  • Does the agency conduct background checks on all staff? 
  • What are the agency’s financial procedures? Will I receive written statements detailing all costs and payments? 
  • Does the agency provide a detailed written plan of care? Who is in charge of evaluating the patient’s needs, and what are their qualifications? 
  • How does the agency handle patient confidentiality? (The agency should be able to give you written information about your right to privacy.) 
  • Can the agency provide me with its Patient Bill of Rights?
Ask for a list of references and contact each one. Ask about their experience with the agency: What is their relationship to the agency? How familiar are they with it? Would they recommend the agency to a close friend or family member?
 
Lastly, be sure any agency you’re considering will provide, in writing and in advance, what your insurance will cover and what your out-of-pocket expense will be.

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