Before you are discharged from the hospital following an illness or injury, your personal physician, a hospitalist, or a discharge planner may recommend home health care services to assist in your continued recovery. But who will provide that care?
By law, you have the right to choose a home health care agency.
In 1997, Congress mandated that patients who need post-hospital services must be given a list (written or verbal) of providers located in the patient’s geographic area to choose from. This applies to all patients in Medicare and Medicaid participating hospitals, regardless of whether the patient is covered by Medicare, Medicaid, managed care, private insurance or private pay. Furthermore:
- The list should be given to the patient or his/her representative at least once prior to discharge.
- The hospital must list providers who request to be listed, if those providers are certified to participate in the Medicare program.
- The hospital must inform the patient or his/her representative of their freedom to choose and must, when possible, respect patient and family preferences when they are expressed.
- The hospital must disclose a financial interest in any of the listed providers.
- The list must be legible and current; it is recommended that the list be updated annually.
So how should you choose a provider from the list given to you?
Medicare.gov recommends asking the following questions of potential home health care agencies:
- Do you offer the specific health care services I need (nursing, therapies, etc.)?
- Can you meet special needs such as language or cultural preferences?
- Do you offer home health aide services such as help with bathing?
- Can you help me arrange for support services such as Meals on Wheels?
- Can your staff provide the type and hours of care my doctor ordered? Can you start when I need you?
- Is staff available at night and on weekends for emergencies?
- Can you explain what my insurance will cover and what I will have to pay out-of-pocket?
- Do you have letters from satisfied patients, family members, and doctors that testify to the agency providing good care?
Complaints about not providing a list to a patient that requires post hospital services should be filed with the state survey agency (such as the Indiana State Department of Health.) For more information on choosing a home health agency, visit www.medicare.gov. VNA Plus also welcomes your questions and concerns…please call the office nearest you anytime.