What government or other financial assistance is available for home health care?

You can get help paying for in-home care if you don't have insurance coverage for long-term care and can't afford to pay out of existing financial resources. These include, but are not limited to, Medicare, Medicaid, Veteran's Programs, tax deductions, and PACE.

I. Medicare

According to AARP, Original Medicare can cover the full cost of medically necessary home health care on a limited basis for beneficiaries who are unable to leave home without assistance. That could include:

  • Skilled nursing care

  • Occupational, physical and speech therapy

  • Home health aide services, if the recipient also needs therapy or skilled nursing

Original Medicare can cover routine home care daily activities such as help with bathing and dressing as well as basic medical care such as checking vital signs and dressing wounds—only on a part-time or intermittent basis, but only if a doctor orders it as part of a broader plan of care. Original Medicare will not pay for full-time home care or for personal and home services if that is the only help needed.

However, Medicare Advantage plans (which are private insurance policies that match Original Medicare's coverage but can provide additional benefit) have the option to offer broader and longer-term coverage for home health services. For example, an MA plan might cover a personal care aide even if the recipient does not need therapy or skilled nursing. Check with the plan provider to understand what is available for each particular plan.

II. Medicaid

The Medicaid joint federal-state program does pay for home health care, some residential and assisted living care, and nursing home care. According to AARP, more than half of all Medicaid spending on long-term care goes toward home- and community-based services.

Note: Home health services available for coverage are more limited under Medicare than Medicaid, but since each state runs its Medicaid program differently, eligibility and benefits vary.

III. Veteran's Programs

Eligible former service members may qualify for one of several VA programs that help pay for care at home, including Aid and Attendance benefits, Housebound benefits, Veteran Directed Care, and Homemaker and Home Health Aide Care. Contact your regional VA benefits office for information.

IV. Tax Exemption

Caregivers hiring and paying for home care for medical reasons may qualify for a federal tax deduction. (Same with those paying for a nursing home.) Additionally, an adult child serving as a caregiver for a live-in parent also can get a tax break by claiming the parent as a dependent but the child must meet certain criteria, including providing more than half of the care recipient's financial support.

V. PACE

Programs of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE) is a small but growing Medicare and Medicaid initiative aimed at keeping frail seniors out of nursing homes. Currently, 131 PACE programs operate 263 PACE centers in 31 states, serving more than 51,000 participants. Find one near you by clicking here.

Among other things, PACE covers in-home care, adult day care, checkups, hospital and nursing home stays, prescriptions and some transportation for medical purposes. It can also pay for training, support and respite for family caregivers. Local PACE organizations work with medical providers who form the recipient's health care team. If the team decides a loved one needs care that Medicaid or Medicare doesn't provide, PACE still may cover it.

To be eligible, someone must be:

  • 55 or older

  • In need of nursing home-level care as certified through your state

  • A resident of an area with a PACE organization

  • Able to live safely in the community with help from PACE. People with Medicare, Medicaid or both can qualify although if you have Medicare only you might be charged a monthly premium. Those not covered through either program can pay for PACE privately.

See below for more answers to your home health care questions >>

>> Where do I start to find coverage for home health care services?

>> What is the difference between home care and home health care?

>> How can I afford home care or home health care services?

>>What are people using to pay for home health care services?

>>What home health care services does Medicare cover?

>>What home health care services does Medicaid cover?

>>What home health care services does Veteran's Programs cover?

>>What home health care services does PACE cover?

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