Patients’ “Right to Choose”
A Fundamental Requirement for a Better Healthcare System
By Michael Fife, A.C.T. Home Health, Denton LIVING WELL Magazine (formerly SENIOR Magazine)
Just as our “right to vote” is fundamental to a better government, so is our “right to choose” a fundamental requirement for a better healthcare system. Medicare has reserved this “right of choice” for beneficiaries because they know a competitive environment improves outcomes and keeps costs lower for the patients they serve. Unfortunately, too many people do not exercise their rights, and, in many cases, they are left with inferior service from politicians and healthcare providers alike. Because many patients may require long-term services from a home health agency, you should be an active participant in deciding which agency will serve you.
It is important to understand that Medicare sets the prices paid for services received by their beneficiaries. Since the prices are set by Medicare, the real difference in value comes from the services and attention you get from the home health agency serving you. Some agencies employ various tactics to maximize patient volume and profits, while others focus on trying to provide the highest level of service for the reimbursement allowed by Medicare. In either case, your choice of home health providers will influence your outcomes. Since Medicare pays the bill (for Medicare beneficiaries) and you receive the services, your doctor or case manager may have no way to determine if the services you receive are the best you can get.
When choosing an agency, recognize that organizations accredited by third parties like CHAP and JCAHO raise the bar even further. As a CHAP accredited organization, A.C.T. Home Health is periodically surveyed by CHAP agents to insure that we are operating under even more rigorous standards than those required by the state which are designed to continuously improve patient care. And, ask your friends, family, and neighbors about their experiences with local home health agencies.
If your doctor recommends home health, tell your doctor which agency you want to use. And, if you become dissatisfied with your provider, you do have the right to switch agencies at any time.