Hospitals Turning to Home Health Care Model for Some COVID-19 Patients

Statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to date show that more than 6,000,000 people have been infected by the coronavirus in the United States. Many seriously ill COVID-19 patients require hospitalization for treatment, putting a great deal of pressure on these facilities, particularly in hard-hit areas like New York, Florida, California, and Arizona.  Home health care for some patients has been a silver lining in getting treatment while also relieving the health systems in some parts of the United States. 

For example, a recent article in the New York Times featured a patient in New York who preferred to be treated at home when she became ill with the coronavirus. In lieu of going to the hospital, the hospital came to her home. A nurse, dressed head to toe in protective gear — gown, gloves, mask, shield and disposable booties — spent nearly eight hours doing a patient assessment. The patient was hooked up to an intravenous line set up in her bedroom to replenish her fluids. A phlebotomist in an N95 mask came to draw blood, an oxygen machine was delivered to her home, and she was prescribed a blood thinner to prevent clots. Over the course of her treatment, nurses came to the patient’s house on a daily basis until she recovered. 

This home-care COVID-19 model is now being assessed by other states that have experienced surges in cases and are looking to help hospitals that have reached patient capacity while also meeting the requests from patients to remain home. With the relaxation of Medicare rules for home health care amid the coronavirus pandemic, patients are now considered homebound if a medical practitioner advises them not to leave their home because of a diagnosis of confirmed or suspected Covid-19 or a condition that makes them more susceptible to contracting the virus. If a physician prescribes skilled services, a home health care agency can provide these services under the Medicare Home Health benefit.

Changes to Medicare rules for telemedicine are also benefitting those who prefer home health care.  At the end of March, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) eased regulations around telemedicine and added more than 80 services to the list of services covered by Medicare during the coronavirus pandemic. Telemedicine visits include emergency department visits, initial nursing facility and discharge visits, home visits, and therapy services. 

The home health care industry has stepped up during this pandemic, providing patients with many of the skilled services hospitals offer as well as assistance with daily living activities such as bathing, dressing and wound care, and running errands. 

Manchester Specialty Programs specializes in providing agents and brokers with totally integrated business insurance solutions to meet the needs of Home Care, Allied Health and Human/Social Services organizations. For more information about how our products and services can help protect your insureds, please contact us at 855.972.9399.