Choosing a home health care provider for a family member is an emotional and difficult decision and requires research to ensure that the agency selected will meet the level of standards and patient care one expects for their loved one. Also important is making sure that when choosing a home health care provider there is an understanding of the kind of services needed and that the home health care firm will address all of them. Homecare can be comprised of skilled care services from a licensed nurse or therapist, custodial services (such as cooking and cleaning), and/or personal care services (such as feeding or bathing). If a family member meets certain criteria, Medicare may cover skilled care and some personal care at home. (Medicare, however, does not cover custodial care.)
When a loved one is discharged from the hospital, many families may turn to the discharge planner or social worker for the names of local agencies they know are dependable and will be covered by Medicare and/or Medicaid. The National Association for Home Care & Hospice (NAHC) also provides a search tool on its website and offers useful advice on how to choose a home care provider, including a checklist of questions to ask providers in order to properly assess their track records.
In addition, family members can get the names of home health care agencies through Medicare’s Home Health Compare (HHC) website and compare organizations by reviewing the Home Health Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers & Systems’ (HHCAHPS) Patient Survey Star Ratings. These ratings, based on a five-star system, compare one home health care agency to another, and help families quickly and easily assess the patient experience of care information. The more stars a health care agency is awarded, the better the quality of care rating. There are more than 11,000 agencies with data on Home Health Compare, and about 6,000 as of January 2016 have patient care experience star ratings.
With the Patient Survey Star Ratings, consumers get a snapshot of four measures of patient experience on the HHC site. These four measures include the care of patients, communication between providers and patients, specific care issues, and the overall rating of care provided by the home health care agency. In addition, the HHCAHPS summary star rating combines all four measures into a single, comprehensive metric.
It’s important to note that some home health agencies do not have enough data currently in the system to calculate and display star ratings. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), however, continually updates Home Health Compare; therefore, those home health agencies that do not have patient experience star ratings at the present may have star ratings in the future. Moreover, the absence of a star rating doesn’t mean that there is something wrong with the home health agency if it is not yet part of the rating system.
Manchester Specialty focuses on providing comprehensive insurance solutions for home health care firms, working with agents and brokers to deliver insureds best-in-class products and services. Part of our commitment is to provide our agency partners with ongoing insight on the home health care industry so you can better understand and address client needs. For more information about our home health care and hospice business insurance solutions, please contact us at (855) 972-9399.