Eligibility, Payment Issues Plague Home Health Care Utilization

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Importance of home health care services increasing, partly due to shorter hospital stays, complex needs.
Importance of home health care services increasing, partly due to shorter hospital stays, complex needs.

HealthDay News — About 6% to 28% of seniors refuse home health care offered when they are discharged from the hospital, according to a report from the United Hospital Fund and the Alliance for Home Health Quality and Innovation.

Carol Levine, from the United Hospital Fund, and Teresa Lee, JD, MPH, from the Alliance for Home Health Quality and Innovation, explored the issues related to home care refusals and crafted policies to ensure appropriate post-hospital care.

According to the report, the importance of home health care services, including skilled care and personal care, is increasing in discharge planning and transitional care, partly as a result of shorter hospital stays and more complex post-discharge needs. Some studies show that patients receiving post-discharge home health care are less likely to be readmitted, while other studies show improved quality of life. About 6 to 28% of those eligible for home health care refuse these services for various reasons. Inflexible criteria for eligibility, inadequate payment for home health care agencies' services for patients, and shortages of trained workforce are policy and system barriers to accessing services. Recommendations include improving communication about care challenges and home health care services, research on aspects of home health refusals, policy changes to increase access and coordination, and continuity across providers and care settings.

"As the trend toward moving care from hospital to community escalates, it will become even more important to develop programs and practices, supported by policy and financial incentives, to give patients the best care possible in their own homes and to support the family caregivers who are essential partners in home health care," the authors wrote.

Reference

Levine C, Lee T. "I can take care of myself !" Patients' Refusals of Home Health Care Services. UHFNYC. Published May 15, 2017. Available at https://www.uhfnyc.org/publications/881209

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