Learning as much as you can about a home care agency is the best way to determine which agency is best for you or a loved one. Following are some questions you should ask perspective home care providers about the services they offer.
- How long has the agency been serving the community?
- Is the agency certified by Medicare?
- Is the agency licensed by the state?
- Is the agency accredited by the Joint Commission of Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO)?
- Does the agency assign supervisors to oversee the quality of care patients are receiving in their homes?
- What procedures are in place to handle emergencies? Are the agency caregivers available 24 hours a day, seven days a week?
The following criteria determine if you may be eligible to receive home health care under your Medicare benefits:
- You must require intermittent skilled nursing care, physical therapy or speech therapy.
- You must be homebound.
- You must be currently under a physician's care. All home health services must be ordered by your physician.
Freedom of Choice
According to Federal law, home health care patients are free to choose which institution, agency or person will provide their home care services.
Section 1802 of the Social Security Act "seeks to ensure that free choice is guaranteed to all Medicare Patients." The law states: "Any individual entitled to insurance benefits under this title [i.e., Medicare] may obtain health services from any institution, agency, or person qualified to participate under this title if such institution, agency, or person undertakes to provide him such services." This statement gives patients freedom to choose whom they want as their provider of post-hospital services.