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When Medicare Pays for Florida Home Health Care

 

A Florida Medicare supplement insurance broker will provide you with all the information to figure out which plans fit your budget, answering any questions you have concerning enrollment, as well as coverage options and costs  to ensure that you get the best plan for your needs.

Home care is a phrase commonly used to refer to a wide range of health and social services. These services are delivered at home to recovering, chronically or terminally ill persons or people with disabilities in need of medical, nursing, social or therapeutic treatment, and/or assistance with the essential activities of daily living.

Medicare will help pay for your home care if all four of the following are true:

  1. Medicare considers you homebound if you meet the following criteria:
    • You need the help of another person or special equipment (walker, wheelchair, crutches, etc.) to leave your home or your doctor believes that leaving your home would be harmful to your health; and
    • It is difficult for you to leave your home and you typically cannot do so.
  2. You need skilled care - This includes skilled nursing care on an intermittent basis. Intermittent means you need care as little as once every 60 days to as much as once a day for three weeks (this period can be longer if you need more care but your need for more care must be predictable and finite). This can also mean you need skilled therapy services. Skilled therapy services can be physical, speech or occupational therapy;*
  3. Your doctor signs a home health certification stating that you qualify for Medicare home care because you are homebound and need intermittent skilled care. - The certification must also say that a plan of care has been made for you, and that a doctor regularly reviews it. Usually, the certification and plan of care are combined in one form that is signed by your doctor and submitted to Medicare.
    • As part of the certification, doctors must also confirm that they (or certain other providers, such as nurse practitioners) have had a face-to-face meeting with you related to the main reason you need home care within 90 days of starting to receive home health care or within 30 days after you have already started receiving home health care. Your doctor must specifically state that the face-to-face meeting confirmed that you are homebound and qualify for intermittent skilled care.
    • The face-to-face encounter can also be done through telehealth. In certain areas, Medicare will cover examinations done for you in specific places (doctors’ offices, hospitals, health clinics, skilled nursing facilities) through the use of telecommunications (such as video conferencing).
  4. You receive your care from a Medicare-certified home health agency (HHA).

Qualifying for Medicare Home Care

As long as you are homebound and need skilled care, there is no prior hospital stay requirement for Medicare Part B coverage of home health care. There is no deductible or coinsurance for Part B covered home health care.

While home health care is normally covered by Part B, if you have been in the hospital as an inpatient for three days, or have been in a skilled nursing facility after a hospital stay, Medicare Part A covers your first 100 days of home health care. Any additional days will then be covered by Medicare Part B. Regardless of whether your care is covered under Medicare Part A or Part B, Medicare pays the full cost.

Types of Home Health Care that Medicare Will Pay For

If you qualify for the home health benefit, Medicare covers the following types of care:

  • Skilled nursing servoces and home health services - Skilled nursing services and home health services provided up to seven days a week for no more than eight hours per day and 28 hours per week (Medicare can cover up to 35 hours in unusual cases). 

    Medicare pays in full for skilled nursing care, which includes services and care that can only be performed safely and effectively by a licensed nurse. Injections (and teaching patients to self-inject), tube feedings, catheter changes, observation and assessment of a patient’s condition, management and evaluation of a patient’s care plan, and wound care are examples of skilled nursing care that Medicare may cover.

    Medicare pays in full for a home health aide if you require skilled services. A home health aide provides personal care services including help with bathing, using the toilet, and dressing. If you ONLY require personal care, you do NOT qualify for the Medicare home care benefit.
  • Skilled therapy services - Physical, speech and occupational therapy services that can only be performed safely by or under the supervision of a licensed therapist, and that are reasonable and necessary for treating your illness or injury. Physical therapy includes gait training and supervision of and training for exercises to regain movement and strength to a body area. Speech-language pathology services include exercises to regain and strengthen speech and language skills. Occupational therapy* helps you regain the ability to do usual daily activities by yourself, such as eating and putting on clothes. Medicare should pay for therapy services to maintain your condition and prevent you from getting worse as long as these services require the skill or supervision of a licensed therapist, regardless of your potential to improve.
  • Medical social services - Medicare pays in full for services ordered by your doctor to help you with social and emotional concerns you have related to your illness. This might include counseling or help finding resources in your community.
  • Medical supplies - Medicare pays in full for certain medical supplies provided by the Medicare-certified home health agency, such as wound dressings and catheters needed for your care.
  • Durable medical equipment - Medicare pays 80 percent of its approved amount for certain pieces of medical equipment, such as a wheelchair or walker. You pay 20 percent coinsurance (plus up to 15 percent more if your home health agency does not accept “assignment”—accept the Medicare-approved amount for a service as payment in full).

*If you only need occupational therapy, you will not qualify for the Medicare home health benefit. However, if you qualify for Medicare coverage of home health care on another basis, you can also get occupational therapy. When your other needs for Medicare home health end, you should still be able to get occupational therapy under the Medicare home health benefit if you still need it.

Types of Home Health Care Medicare Will Not Pay For

Medicare’s home health care benefit is limited. Medicare does not cover many home care services. Medicare home health care does not cover:

  • 24-hour a day care at home
  • Prescription drugs
    • To get Medicare drug coverage, you need to enroll in a Medicare Part D plan. You can choose a stand-alone Medicare private drug plan (PDP), or a Medicare Advantage Plan with Part D coverage (MADP).
  • Meals delivered to your home
  • Homemaker or custodial care services (i.e. cooking, shopping, laundry)
    • Unless custodial care is part of the skilled nursing and/or skilled therapy services you receive from a home health aide or other personal care attendant.

The Medicare hospice benefit may pay for some of these items and services for people at the end of life.

Medicare coverage of home health care

Under the home health benefit, patients typically receive four to ten hours a week of skilled care and home health aide services. Depending on your need, Medicare will pay for skilled nursing and home health services provided up to seven days a week for no more than eight hours per day and 28 hours per week (up to a total of 35 hours in unusual cases).

You can continue to receive the home health care benefit for as long as you continue to qualify for home health care. However, the plan of care, which details the care you will receive and the frequency of services, covers no more than 60 days at a time. A new plan of care will need to be approved by your doctor every 60 days for you to continue to receive home health care benefits.

Medicare covers the full cost of skilled care, home health aide services, and medical social services you receive.

How Much Home Health Care You Can Get

At the start of care and when your condition changes, your home health agency should assess you to see what services you need. The home health agency should then develop a plan of care that spells out the type and amount of services that you need. Your doctor must sign the plan of care at the start of your care or soon after it starts and at least every sixty days. The plan of care and certification will last up to sixty days. If you still need more care after that, the plan of care and certification can be renewed for as many 60-day periods as you need as long as your doctor signs them. A face-to-face meeting is not required for re-certification.

It is important to make sure that doctor agrees with the plan of care and thinks it contains all the care you need.

Note: The plan of care is often contained in the same form as the home health certification that your doctor must sign to show you need Medicare home care. As part of the certification for home health care, your doctor must confirm that you had a face-to-face meeting with him/her or other health care provider related to the main reason you need home care. This meeting must be within 90 days of starting to receive home health care or within 30 days after you have already started receiving home health care. Your physician must specifically state that the face-to-face meeting confirmed that you are homebound and qualify for intermittent skilled care.

The face-to-face encounter can also be done through telehealth. In certain areas, Medicare will cover examinations done for you in specific places (doctors’ offices, hospitals, health clinics) through the use of telecommunications (such as video conferencing).

A face-to-face meeting is not required for re-certification.

Starting the Home Health Care Benefit

  • If you are in the hospital - The hospital social worker or discharge planner will generally arrange for a Medicare home health agency to visit you in the hospital and assess your condition to determine if you qualify for Medicare-covered home health care.
  • If you are at home - Talk to your doctor about your home health needs and ask your doctor for names of Medicare-certified home health agencies.
  • Your doctor may have a list of local Medicare-certified home health agencies (HHAs) or you can get one from your hospital discharge planning office, the Yellow Pages, or the Eldercare Locator. Generally, you or your doctor’s office can call the HHAs directly and ask them to come to your home and assess your condition to determine if you qualify for Medicare-covered home health care.
  • No matter where you are - In either situation, the HHA will evaluate your home health needs and draw up a plan of care. Your doctor must also complete a certification stating that you qualify for Medicare home care, and that a plan of care has been made for you that will be reviewed on a regular basis by your doctor.

    As part of the certification, your doctor must confirm that you have had a face-to-face meeting with your doctor or other provider related to the main reason you need home care. This face-to-face meeting must be within 90 days of starting to receive home health care or within 30 days after you have already started receiving home health care. Your physician must specifically state that the face-to-face meeting confirmed that you are homebound and qualify for intermittent skilled care.

    The face-to-face encounter can also be done through telehealth. In certain areas, Medicare will cover examinations done for you in specific places (doctors’ offices, hospitals, health clinics) through the use of telecommunications (such as video conferencing).

    The plan of care and certification will last up to sixty days. If you still need more care after that, the plan of care and certification can be renewed for as many 60-day periods as you need as long as your doctor signs them. A face-to-face meeting is not required for re-certification.
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