A Few Tips For Preventing Home Care Fraud

Home Care FraudWith the home care industry on the rise and more and more elderly or disabled people in need of companionship services, there have also been increasingly fraud claims that cost the healthcare system millions of dollars each year. Learn to recognize and protect yourself from home care fraud so as to ensure you won’t fall prey to an unscrupulous scam artist. Here are a few tips that will help you prevent these common home care frauds.

What is home care fraud?

Home care fraud is any attempt to willfully and knowingly make bill medical claims with the purpose of defrauding the Medicare program. These frauds are common in the home care industry where many scam artists use common tricks and deceiving tactics to bill for services they never offered, for unbundling charges or any other attempt to make fraudulent claims or take advantage of an elderly or disabled person.

Protect yourself from identity fraud

One of your most important concerns is to protect both your social security number and your Medicare number which is equally important in this case. Identity theft occurs throughout the world, although ,in the home care industry, it can happen more often due to the vulnerability of elderly people. You should keep your social security number Medicare number and other vital personal information safe and only show them to your physician or an authorized Medicare provider.

Failing to properly protect your personal information can result in fraud or other crimes carried out in your name. You could discover later on that credits have been obtained in your name, apartment rents or any other goods have been taken on your credit cards. Protect your personal information at all costs so as to not become a victim of identity theft.

Don’t pay for services you never received

Common home care scams involve people trying to obtain money on equipment or services that are never provided. You should be wary about paying for durable medical equipment such as wheelchairs, beds or even mobility scooters that can be used on fraudulent claims. You should also be aware of billing for tests, treatment or procedures that have never been performed. What’s more, remember to show your medical records only to your physician or Medicare approved provider, as there are also scams that falsify diagnosis codes only to add unnecessary treatment or services.

Don’t accept free services

You should already know by now know that there is nothing free in this world. Don’t accept any free services and be wary of people promising to provide you with free tests, treatment or services. You should also refuse to pay anything in exchange of future offers or free services.

Ask questions

Even though it may be disturbing to think that your home care provider may be capable of committing fraud, you should always verify his background, employment history or any other details that may give you an insight into the person you are about to hire.

Also, remember to only hire healthcare workers through reputable third party services if you want to minimize the chances of being a victim of home care fraud.

How to Plan for Senior Care Costs

Senior Care CostsLife expectancy has increased a lot during the last three decades, and so have the costs for senior care. On the average, a US senior has to pay around $3,500 per month for assisted living, and this amount is prohibitive for most family budgets.

The best solution for every family is to plan ahead and, in order to do so, to be aware of the options they have to raise the money needed to care for a senior person. Here are the main options available:

  1. Reverse Mortgage/ Home Equity Line of Credit

These financing options are available for homeowners who want to use their house as collateral in securing payment for their assisted care. There are various pros and cons associated with these plans.

Reverse mortgage has strict eligibility conditions – the applicant must be married, and the spouse must continue to live in the home used as collateral. Both spouses will sign the loan agreement, and the surviving spouse will continue to pay back the loan. Also, the borrower cannot obtain an amount exceeding the value of the house.

On a positive note, the reverse mortgage offers more consumer protection, since the owners cannot be forced out of their house in case of defaulting on payments.

Home equity line of credit (HELOC) works best for couples of different age, who seek shorter loan periods (around 5 years). The loan amount is calculated taken into consideration various factors (including the younger spouse’s age), so it can exceed the house value).

On the other hand, the property can be subject to foreclosure, and the loan is liquidated by paying back the lump sum of the principal – which is usually done by selling the house.

  1. Life Insurance Conversion

You can use the benefit payable upon death to surviving relatives to pay for the assisted living costs. There are five ways to do so:

  • Life settlement – Available to those with a short life expectancy but who are not terminally ill, this option involves lower annual premiums, but it may involve losing Medicaid or Supplemental Social Security.
  • Viatical settlement – It involves selling your life insurance to a third party in exchange of a lump sum. One condition to qualify is a life expectancy of 2-5 years.
  • Accelerated death benefit – It means receiving a portion of the amount payable to policy beneficiaries to pay for your assisted living care. However, this option may disqualify you from Medicaid or Supplemental Social Security.
  • Death benefit cost – It involves taking a loan from the same insurer against your life insurance policy. The advantages of these loans are the low interest rates and the lack of a repayment schedule.
  • Life insurance conversion – It means selling your life insurance to a third party in exchange for care services. No money is received by the policy owner, therefore, this option does not affect the eligibility for Medicaid or Supplemental Social Security.
  1. Assisted Living Loans

These loans are usually granted for a short term (under 2 years), and they are meant to offer a cash boost for assisted care, before the applicant obtains a consistent amount of money for senior care (usually from the sale of a real estate property) or before a type of continuous income (veteran’s pension) is finally approved.

4 Reasons Why Home Care Is The Best Option For Your Loved Ones

loved onesIf you have an elderly family member that is having a hard time caring for himself and you are constantly worrying about how you are going to provide the needed assistance when your schedule is so tight, then you would be glad to learn that home care professionals can provide you with the needed help. Here are 4 reasons why hiring a home care professional is your best option at ensuring that your loved elderly family member gets all the care and attention he deserves.

  1. It can help you stop to worrying

One of the main reasons why you should hire a home care professional to look after your loved family member is so that you will get the peace of mind knowing that all his needs will be met. It can be hard to deal with constant worrying and bad thoughts when you realize that you simply don’t have the time or resources to take care of your elder family member, especially when you have a demanding job or children to take care of.

  1. It ensures that the needs of your loved one are being met

By hiring a dedicated home care worker, you will ensure that all the needs of your beloved family member will be met. A trusted assistant will help your elder with washing, preparing meals, taking medication etc. Your loved one won’t feel isolated and alone anymore, as he will be able to live a normal life with a little assistance from a home care professional.

  1. It allows your family member to stay at home

Especially if your senior member doesn’t have medical conditions requiring hospitalization, it is a normal choice to allow him to live at home. Doing so will provide the elderly with a sense of autonomy while also allowing him to live in a place he is familiar with. It has been proven that elderly people tend to live longer and happier in a familiar environment.

  1. It provides you with an affordable solution

Growing old is certainly not easy, and the financial aspect of it is tough to deal with as well. As your increasing needs of your senior member tend to put more strain on the retirement plan funds or on your finances, finding a solution that doesn’t cost a load of money can be difficult. Getting your senior member in a healthcare facility will not only deprive him of that familiarity and sense of autonomy, but it will drain your finances.

Fortunately, hiring a home care professional is an affordable solution that can take the worries off your mind while also ensuring that all the needs of your loved one are met. Especially if you pick a trusted healthcare provider in your area, you can benefit from affordable services and rates and also benefit from the Medicare insurance plan.

So if you have a loved one who is getting old and you don’t have the time and resources to offer him the best treatment possible, then you should hire a dedicated home care professional through a trusted service.

How to Make Sure That Your In-Home Care Worker Is Trustworthy

Trustworthy Home Care WorkerHiring an in-home caregiver for the elderly is a decision with a powerful impact both on your finances and on your peace of mind. Basically, you trust a stranger with the care and well being of a member of your family.

That person has complete access to your loved one’s home and possessions. Building trust on a short notice is very hard, but circumstances may not allow you to put off the moment of providing home care for an elderly person.

Seek Help in the Right Place

The only place where you should look for in-home caregivers is a professional agency. There are absolutely no other safe alternatives – not even personal recommendations from neighbors and friends. Each elderly care case is different, and only a specialized healthcare professional can determine the level of help your loved one needs.

While you may think that hiring a company is more expensive than finding an independent caregiver, you should consider your abilities in selecting the right person. Are you sure you know all the necessary questions to ask and to follow up on every recommendation provided by the person who applied to your ad?

Before you answer, here is how in-home care companies select their staff and what internal procedures they follow to make sure that each employee is doing their job properly.

The Recruitment Process

Not just everyone gets to work for a senior home care agency. These agencies know exactly what type of persons can be trusted to care for an elderly person and they scrutinize the entire background of any applicant.

Reputable companies typically perform the following types of checks:

  • Background check – every reference provided by the applicant is checked by phone call. The companies will not accept only personal references from friends and family. They will also request professional references from hierarchical superiors, coworkers and families they work for.
  • Criminal record check – applicants must provide a complete and up to date criminal record file from the authorities. Any type of criminal activity from the past, no matter how insignificant, will disqualify the person from the recruitment process.
  • Financial situation – home care companies are aware that some people under financial strain may resort to applying to elderly care positions in order to gain access to people’s home. Therefore, the applicants must prove that they are not in debt, have not filed for personal bankruptcy and do not have a negative credit score.

Ongoing Monitoring

It takes one dishonest employee to ruin the reputation of an entire company, especially in such a sensitive field as elderly in-home care. This is why senior care companies have very strict monitoring policies, which not only ensure that their employees are honest and trustworthy, but that they provide high quality services and treat their charges with dignity and respect.

Whenever you have a justified reason to mistrust the caregiver assigned to your loved one, you can contact the company and a new person will be sent to provide in-home services. This way, you can be sure that you will not leave your elderly relative unsupervised and without immediate help if you are unhappy with a worker and wish to terminate their employment.

Obama’s Promise To Raise Home Care Workers’ Wages Fails

ObamaIn 2011, President Barack Obama issued a promise to increase home care worker’s wages and overtime pay. Four years later, that promise seems to have been crushed due to a ruling decision by a District of Columbia Judge. Nearly 2 million healthcare workers who had been banking on that promise will have to wait longer for basic worker protection and fair pay.

The Obama promise and the Department of Labor attempt

Four years ago, President Barrack Obama promised that healthcare workers across the country will enjoy the same basic protections other Americans take for granted. The promise was to expand the minimum wage and overtime pay laws so as to cover healthcare workers.

The promise would have been fulfilled had the Department of Labor (DOP) legislation not been ruled out in court. The Labor Department issued official rules which meant to remove a Fair Labor Standards Act which exempted third party employers from paying minimum wages or for paying for overtime to healthcare workers providing companionship services to elderly or disabled people unable to care for themselves. The exempt was set in 1974 and it essentially deprived healthcare workers from federal minimum wage and overtime laws that would have protected them. Had the legislation passed the Federal Court, nearly 2 million people employed by third party services would have benefited from these basic protections.

The Labor department not only challenged the 40 year old law, but it also tried to redefine companionship care and narrow down the meaning of the term.

The ruling of the legislation

Long before Judge Richard Leon’s decision, associations such as the International Franchise Association or the Home Care Association of America had issued concerns about the Department of Labor new legislation and had made an appeal to Judge Richard Leon to invalidate it. Their main arguments were that increasing the minimum wage and overtime pay would have destabilized businesses and the home care market and that it would have caused many families not to afford companionship services.

It appears that Judge Leon granted these associations the request, as it ruled on December 22 that higher wages and overtime will not have to be paid by third party employers and on Wednesday when he stroke down the rule which tried to narrow down the companionship care definition. Judge Leon concluded that the Department of Labor overstepped their power and that the 40 year old exemption is as clear today as it was when issued the first time.

What all of this means

Advocacy groups such as the Paraprofessional Healthcare Institute declared that Judge Leon’s court ruling is deeply disturbing and that the three year old course which was supposed to provide healthcare workers with basic protection will have to wait longer until they receive a fair pay.

Judge Leon’s ruling on Wednesday means that nearly 2 million healthcare workers employed by third party services will still be kept in poverty by a 40 year old exemption and that they will have to wait for basic protection laws most other Americans take for granted. If anyone has to gain from Judge Leon’s ruling, it is home aide staffing agencies.