The Average Cost for Home Care for Elderly Parents

Home health aides provide personal care services.
Home health aides provide personal care services. (Image: Jupiterimages/Pixland/Getty Images)

Home health care services can help keep elderly individuals in their homes longer. Because of illness or disability, your parents may need some outside help to live independently. The cost of care can vary significantly depending on the types of services an individual requires. Before you can get cost estimates for care, you must identify what kinds of assistive services your parents need.

Factors Affecting Cost

The cost for a home health care aide differs depending on location and the types of services an aide must provide. The experience level of the aide and whether the person works independently or for a licensed home health care agency are additional factors that affect cost. Home health care services provided by a certified agency cost more because a nurse supervises the care. Some agencies offer a 24-hour rate. Most home health agencies do not charge an additional fee to care for elderly individuals with Alzheimer’s disease, although most licensed agencies provide special training in that area to their aides.

Average Rates

Hourly rates for home health aides average about $21 per hour nationally, according to the 2009 MetLife Market Survey of Long-Term Care Costs. Personal care aides in some areas of the country work for wages as low as $13 an hour. Aides in other states earn $30 or more per hour to perform similar duties. Evening or weekend care usually costs more. Many agencies also add an additional fuel charge to the base rate. Some agencies charge a mileage rate depending on where you live and how far an aide has to travel.

Medicare Coverage

In order for Medicare to pay for home health services, an individual must meet certain criteria. Medicare will pay for home health aide services if you are also receiving skilled nursing care or physical, occupational or speech-language therapy. Your doctor must order home care as part of your care plan and you must not be able to leave your home without assistance from others. The home health agency from which you receive either part-time or intermittent home health care must be Medicare certified. Unless you have other health insurance coverage, you may have additional costs. The agency should clarify what costs Medicare will pay and what costs you must pay on your own.

Medicaid Helps Pay

Medicaid is a medical assistance program funded by the federal and state governments. Although the program provides medical insurance to low-income individuals, each state has its own eligibility requirements. Under the law, states are only required to provide home health services to elderly individuals who receive aid from other federal assistance programs or whose incomes fall below federal poverty guidelines. Individuals who do not normally qualify as financially needy often deplete savings and other assets. They eventually meet the requirements for Medicaid to help pay with long-term care costs. Many states limit the number and types of home care services the Medicaid program covers. For Medicaid to pay, the home health agency must be certified.

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