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Seniors may have to pay for Medicare home health

San Francisco Chronicle/AP, January 14, 2011
Medicare recipients could see a sizable new out-of-pocket charge for home health visits if Congress follows through on a recommendation issued Thursday by its own advisory panel. Until now, home health visits from nurses and other providers have been free of charge to patients. But the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission says a copayment is needed to discourage overuse of a service whose cost to taxpayers is nearing $20 billion a year amid concerns that fraudsters are also taking advantage. The panel did not prescribe an amount, but its staff has suggested the charge be $150 for a series of related visits. Medicare requires copays for many other services, so home health has been the exception, not the rule.

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1 comments on "Seniors may have to pay for Medicare home health"


Linda Ollis (1/14/2011 at 11:22 AM)
Although I am pleased to see that visits immediately following discharge from a hospital will still be covered, this decision seems a bit short-sighted. If "rampant" fraud and abuse are suspected, it would seem more appropriate to investigate ways to prevent the fraud, rather than shifting the cost burden to the patient. Home healthcare is an incredibly valuable part of the healthcare continuum that is economical compared to other settings (SNF, Hospital Outpatient services for example) and pragmatic as it allows providers to visit the home envirnoment and make practical suggestions on safety, medication issues and other aspects of daily life that will prevent patients from being readmitted to the costly hospital setting. As regulations continue to emerge related to healthcare reform, I hope more thought will be given to the long-term and inter-relatedness of these decisions.