Learn how home health services can help you or a loved one recover and regain independence.
If your primary healthcare provider has recommended home health services for you or a loved one, you may have questions. What is home healthcare? How much does it cost? What are the benefits? Read on to get answers that may help you through the process.
What is home healthcare?
For some older adults, leaving home—even to get much-needed medical care—can be a struggle. Home healthcare, also called home health, is skilled medical care provided in the home. Nurses and therapists help patients manage their chronic conditions or recovery from injury, illness, surgery or hospitalization.
Some patients begin home health services after being diagnosed with a serious or chronic medical condition, like diabetes or heart failure. Patients may also qualify if their existing condition is worsening or becoming more challenging to manage. Most often though, healthcare providers refer patients to home health after a recent stay in a hospital, rehab center or skilled nursing facility. Home health is usually less expensive, more convenient and just as effective as care you get in a hospital or skilled nursing facility.1
If you or your loved one needs home health services, a team of clinicians will work with your healthcare provider to create a comprehensive, personalized care plan to help you meet your health goals. Home health clinicians keep your healthcare provider up to date on how you are doing and will review any changes in your plan of care.2
Some examples of home health services include:
- Skilled nursing care
- Physical therapy
- Occupational therapy
- Speech therapy
- Medical social work
- Medication management
- Wound care
- Intravenous and infusion therapy
- Nutritional support
- Patient and caregiver education
Home health is not the same as home care (or in-home care), which is sometimes called personal care, community care, companion care or custodial care. Home care is non-clinical support such as meal prep, companionship and transportation assistance.
Can I get specialized care in the home?
Some home health agencies offer specialized care for patients’ unique health needs. They can provide tools and techniques for managing complex conditions.
Many home health agencies offer specialty programs for the following medical conditions:
- Alzheimer's and dementia
- Balance and mobility issues
- Heart failure
- Lung problems
- Neurological disorders
- Post-surgical recovery, including joint replacement
- Stroke rehabilitation
- Wound care
Who can benefit from home health?
Patients may benefit from care in the home if they:
- Need medical care provided by a nurse or physical, occupational or speech therapist
- Have a chronic illness such as heart failure, diabetes, chronic wounds or COPD
- Are recovering from injury, illness, surgery or hospitalization
- Have a condition that limits their ability to leave home
- Need monitoring after a recent medication change
- Are experiencing an overall decline in function and can benefit from occupational or physical therapy to regain independence
How does home healthcare begin?
Anyone can ask for home health—but a physician or other healthcare provider must order the services and the patient must meet certain criteria to start care.
A nurse or therapist will likely be the first home health team member the patient meets. They will admit the patient to care and determine the best course of treatment with the healthcare provider.
Where is home healthcare provided?
Home health services are provided where the patient lives:
- Assisted living facility
- Independent living facility
How much do home health visits cost?
If you have Medicare coverage, it will usually pay for the home health visits your healthcare provider has ordered. If you have some other type of insurance, you may be responsible for a percentage of the charges. Most providers will help you check your insurance benefits, or you can contact your insurance carrier directly. The cost of home health varies across and within states.
Have questions about home healthcare?
Click here to connect with one of our nurses. They are available 24/7 to help you determine if home health is right for you.
- “What’s home health care?,” U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, last accessed Feb. 10, 2023, medicare.gov/what-medicare-covers/whats-home-health-care.
- “Medicare and Home Health Care,” U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, accessed Feb. 10, 2023, www.cms.gov/Medicare/Quality-Initiatives-Patient-Assessment-Instruments/HomeHealthQualityInits/Downloads/HHQIHHBenefits.pdf