There seems to be a common misconception in our country regarding the reception of home health services.
First of all, too many people needing home health are under the impression that if they are to receive home health services, they must accept the ongoing or company assigned to them by the discharging hospital or referring physician. This is not only a common myth, but it is also very illegal.
The fact is, if you are needing home health services, all you need is a physician’s order for home health services to satisfy Medicare.
Many physicians are affiliated with rehabilitation companies or home health companies and try to lead you to believe you must take what they give you. Patients are many time too timid to ask for something different.
Nothing could be further from the truth!
When you receive an order for home health services, you can request a specific home health company. In fact, you can even request specific therapists, nurses, or any other facet of home health service or therapy that you like. The discharging hospital or referring physicians are obligated to accommodate your wishes, within reason.
Too many medical groups have created the impression that you have to take what they recommend. This is because many of them have some kind of vested interest in you receiving what they prescribe.
Some physicians have even told patients that if they didn’t accept the home health company or therapist they specified, they would not write the order.
Again, this is illegal and Medicare would be very interested in finding out this information.
Moreover, Medicare is very interested in hospitals or physicians who are only looking after their own interests. Medicare would like to be contacted whenever a physician insists upon you using a certain home health company, rehabilitation group, or medical supply company.
This is called a conflict of interest and again, is very illegal. The reason for this is because many of the physicians referring these services, receive “kickbacks” in the form of financial amenities, or other bonuses. Many times, a physician doesn’t own the company. However, they may own the building the home health company or rehabilitation company works from. When they refer patients for home health services or rehabilitation services, the company receives reimbursement from Medicare. In turn the physician will charge is company outrageous rent fees, and is able to collect by referring patients. This is an indirect form of receiving kickbacks, and again, is illegal.
How To Avoid Being Victimized
You must first be knowledgeable with Medicare laws and regulations. You must also inform your physician that you know the Medicare laws, regulations, and more importantly, your rights as a patient.
Never accept a home health company from your physician if you don’t feel completely comfortable with their services. Even if you receive a referral to receive home health services from a specific company and find that you’re not happy with this company, you have the right to change companies. Furthermore, if you find that the nurses or therapists are not to your liking, you can change nurses or therapists. Many home health companies display behavior that is not consistent with the best interest of the patient. The nurses or nurse liaison, or therapists, may be rude, money driven, or power-hungry, or all of the above. What you need to do is inform the home health company that you wish to change companies and that you are informing your physician of this information.
Next, contact your physician and request a different home health company, nurse, or therapist. Most of the time, your physician will be cooperative. However if you need to be more insistent, you can inform your physician or the referring nurse, that you are well aware of the Medicare laws and regulations. Let them know that you will indeed file a complaint regarding this matter if your wishes are not respected.
Filing A Complaint With Medicare
It is always a good idea to let the physician know that you are knowledgeable of your rights, along with Medicare rules and regulations. If your physician is stubborn, or resists your wishes, it is your right, and obligation, for other patients, to file a Medicare complaint.
To file a Medicare complaint all you need to do is go to the Medicare government web site and inform them of the complaint. You can also contact Medicare through a contact hotline on the telephone to communicate with them. The Medicare hotline is 1-800-447-8477. You can contact Medicare and get more information regarding home health care and your rights at via their website at http://www.medicare.gov/HHCompare/Home.asp
Remember, you not have to take the home health company that is assigned to you. It is your right to receive the home health company, the nurse, and the home health therapist of your choice. It is your right to change home health care companies if you are not completely satisfied.