The Changing Home Health Care Industry – What It Means to You

February 14, 2018

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The 65+ population is growing faster than any other demographic segment in the United States. The post-WWII baby boomer generation is retiring, and will continue to retire gradually for the next 20 years, with as many as 10 000 people turning 65 every day. Combined with generally increasing life expectancy, this will likely to lead to the 65+ segment counting for as much as 20% of the total US population, or well over 80 million people.

This explains why home health care, among other services that target senior citizens, is a booming industry that is bound to develop in new directions in the years and decades to come. The current scale of senior citizen home healthcare services provided is already impressive, with an estimate of 8 million people receiving assistance in 2012.

The boom of home health senior care began with the beginning of government assistance to cover the services in the 1960s. In 1965 Medicare stepped in, and it is still the biggest source of financial support for senior home health care. Due to legislative issues, financing stalled somewhat in the 1980s, then in the 1990s, when the Balanced Budget Act was enacted, but the industry managed to rebound and is, once again, on the rise.

Nursing homes and assisted living facilities are other standard ways to deal with the increasing health and psychological challenges in the old age, but most people prefer to stay at home until health conditions make the move to a special facility absolutely unavoidable. Aging safely and peacefully is the goal, and for as long as a person is still able to age in place, it’s preferable from the psychological point of view. In fact, over 7.5 million individuals currently receive health care at home, compared to 1.8 million nursing home patients.

Selecting a home health care agency

The process of selecting an agency to provide home health care services for a senior citizen is fairly straightforward. Since Medicare (or in some cases, Medicaid or private insurance) covers these services under both part A and part B, the home health agency has to be Medicare-certified and has to interact with the doctor in care management.

Image Credit: Hospice Association of America

The doctor must confirm that home health care is medically necessary (intermittent nursing care or outpatient therapy at home). The services are provided for a maximum of 60 days, and are then subject to mandatory review by the doctor. However, the number of renewals is potentially indefinite, as long as the services are needed to treat a certain condition. The goal of home health care is to treat a specific condition and assist in regaining one’s independence and self-sufficiency. It may include a very wide range of skilled services, such as IV therapy, injections, wound care, monitoring patient status, and more. Medicare may cover the following services, as required and subject to approval:

  • Nursing services
  • Medical social services
  • Home health aide services
  • Physical, occupational and speech pathology services
  • Supplies required, including DME (durable medical equipment)

Medicaid may also cover some of the home health care costs via its joint federal/state program for patients with low income. It covers medically necessary services and care, as well as long-term in-home health care services. There’s also the option of private long-term insurance, where the plans vary greatly and require careful study.

When it comes to selecting a home health care agency, there are the following major criteria to consider and different ways to go about it.


A reliable and dependable home care agency is the key to your peace of mind and your loved one’s aging in a sound environment. Make sure that the agency is certified and that the staff is properly licensed and experienced.

Recommendations from trusted medical staff at the hospital or clinic are an excellent way to find a reliable agency. Another way to determine the reliability of a specific agency is to search for personal testimonials online and offline.

Meeting your needs

Make sure that the caregiver is skilled in precisely the services required for your loved one. Whether administration of medication, mobility needs or blood pressure monitoring are required, the home health staff should be able to do it. Language preferences and a good interpersonal connection are also crucial.


Financial costs of health care services, especially in the long-term, are usually very taxing on the family. Pricing ranges considerably if the services aren’t covered by the insurance, so it’s definitely worth it to conduct a survey of the services offered and their prices.

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