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Free Emergency Home Doctor Visits for Medicare Recipients in 2022!

home doctor visits for seniors

In the face of a potential pandemic, home doctor visits for elderly were the appropriate option because that time, many were looking for ways to take care of themselves and their families. One way to do this is by taking advantage of free emergency home doctor visits. This program is being offered by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) in 2022 and could be a great resource for Medicare recipients. Keep in mind that this program is only available in certain areas, so be sure to check the eligibility requirements before you sign up.

Home Doctor Visits for Elderly: Does it Really Work?

Elderly home visits have several advantages, and numerous initiatives have demonstrated the efficacy of this patient-centered care model. According to the 2012 Independence at Home Act, for instance, home-based care helped Medicare members save $32 million over the course of two years. The average annual savings for each beneficiary was $3,000 in the first year and more than $1,000 in the second. Statistics also indicated a fall in emergency room visits, inpatient hospitalizations, and hospital readmissions over the study period.

Types of Medicare Coverage

Any doctor who accepts Medicare assignment is covered if you have Original Medicare (Parts A and B), whether or not you also have a Medicare Supplement (Medigap) policy. Thankfully, the majority of physicians in the United States accept the coverage. 

With a Medicare Advantage (Part C) plan, you must only see the providers who are part of your policy’s network in order to be covered for all medical expenses. 

When visiting any specialist, you’ll also need references to be covered by your plan. The coverage that Parts A and B offer for inpatient and outpatient services, respectively, is included in Part C.

What Medicare Advantage Plans cover (all Medicare services)

Even if you have a Medicare Advantage Plan, Original Medicare will still help pay for some new Medicare benefits, some expenditures associated with clinical research trials, and hospice care. Services that are not medically required under Medicare may not be covered by the plan. Before receiving a service, ask your provider if it is covered if you are unsure.

A Medicare Advantage Plan may provide coverage for benefits that Original Medicare does not, such as

  • vision
  • hearing
  • dental services
  • Fitness programs (gym memberships or discounts) (like routine check-ups or cleanings). 

Plans may also include additional benefits. For instance, some plans may provide coverage for things like doctor visit transportation, over-the-counter medications that Part D doesn’t cover, and services that support your wellness and health. Before enrolling, inquire about the benefits offered by the plan, check if you might be eligible, and learn about any restrictions.

What Do Doctor Home Visits Look Like?

The fact that home health care or doctor visit may be tailored to a patient’s needs is one of its main benefits. Medical experts from a variety of specialties, including primary care doctors, occupational therapists, physical therapists, speech therapists, and others, can perform medical home visits to provide everything from preventive care to managing complex chronic illnesses. Doctor home visits can offer a variety of services, such as the following:

Health and nutrition counseling
Medication management
Palliative care
Physical therapy
Occupational therapy
Speech therapy
Wound care
Transitional care
Diabetic counseling
Dementia care
Primary care
Routine follow-ups
Skilled nursing care
Specialist consultations

Depending on the patient’s needs, in-home doctor visits can be tailored to include any mix of the aforementioned services. House-call doctors are able to offer better continuity of treatment for patients who might not otherwise have access to regular or dependable healthcare services by offering in-home medical care.

When Does Medicare Cover House Call?

Unfortunately, the most common kind of house calls is not often covered by Medicare. 

Even in the age of Covid, scheduling a home visit from your primary care physician is more difficult than doing so for a telemedicine visit.

In the end, if your situation warrants it, Medicare will pay for you to receive care at home (home health care). 

Once more, in order for your care to be covered by your affordable Advantage plan, you must confirm that your provider accepts Medicare assignment (if you have Original Medicare) or is a part of its network. 

Regardless of whether the care will be provided in your house, this general principle still holds true.

Home Doctor Visits for Elderly: Independence at Home

The Independence at Home Demonstration is a program that the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) introduced in 2011. 

Patients with various chronic diseases who are still living independently but would benefit from a medical visit at home can enroll in this voluntary primary care program. 

However, the model is only used by a very small number of sites nationwide. For CMS, the scheme has produced savings. 

Originally set to finish at the end of 2020, the program has now been extended until 2023. 

If this effort continues to be successful, Medicare’s policies for this kind of care might alter.

Who Qualifies for In-Home Healthcare 2022?

home doctor visits for elderly

 

The fastest-growing group of American adults is over 85, and they are also among those who benefit from in-home medical care the most frequently. Elderly patients have a lot of advantages from in-home healthcare, but other patients can also gain from it. 

A patient must have a legitimate excuse for not being able to visit the doctor’s office in order to be eligible for in-home doctor visits. There are many other potential causes, but some of the most frequent ones are as follows:

Chronic conditions include diabetes, heart disease, or high blood pressure.
Any acute conditions
Patients in need of immediate treatment who are in bed
older adults alone in a city
Mobility issues brought on by a disability or an injury
Seeing issues that make driving or traveling risky
insufficient transportation (or access to transportation)
issues with the mind or memory (such as Alzheimer’s disease)
several chronic diseases requiring complicated management

If you want your doctor home visits to be reimbursed by Medicare, there may be additional requirements in addition to these broad ones. In order to be eligible for home health insurance, you must:

Need intermittent or part-time expert care to treat, prevent, manage, or delay a current health condition
Be receiving care from a physician who performs and records an in-person visit either three months prior to beginning home health care or one month after beginning it.
According to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) definition of “homebound.”

According to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid, a person is considered homebound if they cannot leave their home without the assistance of a caregiver or medical devices like a walker, crutches, or wheelchair or if their doctor considers that doing so could jeopardize their health. In addition, the patient must find it challenging to leave their house.

Benefits of Doctor Visiting for the Elderly at Home

The fundamental advantage of providing older patients with medical care at home is that it helps keep them out of hospitals/ ERs and nursing homes.

More than a million older Americans are totally housebound, and another 2-3 million are severely incapacitated enough to be unable to visit a doctor, according to the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP). 

Even older people who are not entirely housebound are likely to postpone seeing their primary care physician because it is just too difficult. Their conditions deteriorate as a result, and treatment costs rise.

At home, doctor care is more individualized than the treatment that most patients receive in a doctor’s office or hospital, in addition to decreasing the frequency of hospitalizations and ER visits. 

Many doctors see 20 or more patients a day, and each visit lasts only a few minutes. Care is far more individualized when it is delivered to the patient; it is then tailored to meet their specific medical requirements. 

Additionally, knowing that a patient is receiving treatment while at home can bring comfort to both the patient and their loved ones.

Patients who live a long way from a hospital or doctor’s office can still receive normal care thanks to in-home medical care for the elderly. 

Nengliang Yao, an assistant professor of public health at the University (Virginia School of Medicine) claims that the majority of senior patients who are housebound reside 30 miles or more away from their physician. 

The availability of care for those patients would rise if more house calls were made.

The Future of Home Doctor Visits on Medicare

The need for alternatives grows when people become reluctant to go to in-person medical appointments since they might have been exposed to Covid-19. Medicare now offers more coverage than ever for telehealth, but residential calls are not covered in the same way. It is obvious that coverage is far from comprehensive when a patient needs a face-to-face meeting with their primary care physician to determine the need for home health care.

As a result of the necessity to close this coverage gap and the Independence at Home Demonstration’s success, Medicare will presumably soon provide expanded coverage for primary care house calls, including routine check-ups. Beneficiaries’ health depends on it.

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