5 myths about home care


one tep at a timeThe following myths often come up when people are considering care options for themselves or a loved one.  Knowing the facts can save time, money and unnecessary frustration.

Myth #1.  Medicare covers home care

THE FACTS: Medicare (as well as Medicare supplements and other private health insurance plans) does not cover non medical in home care.  Some of this confusion come from the fact that Medicare will cover limited skilled nursing (home health) services in the home.  For example: Medicare will cover a physical therapist to come to your home 1 hour a week and help you regain mobility so that you can stand to make dinner, take a shower, etc.  It will not pay for some one to help you prepare meals, take a shower or clean your house while you are rehabbing at home.  Read more about the differences between home care and home health care.

Myth #2.  A home care company with a license has met standards for quality of care, proof of liability coverage and ethical business practices.

THE FACTS:All a licensed home care business has done is pay the business license fee to a local authority (city or county).   Home care companies are not required by law to meet any standard for liability insurance coverage, employee training, background checks, or standardized business practices.  Most of the responsibility for vetting companies fall on the consumer.  See our Hiring In Home Help Guide for more information on finding a good caregiving company.

COMING SOON_California passed the Home Care Services Consumer Protection Act of 2013 which will require caregivers and caregiving companies to meet guidelines for hiring, liability insurance coverage and training.  The implementation has been delayed until Jan 2016.

Myth #3.  I can hire my caregiver as an independent contractor and just give them a 1099 at the end of the year.

THE FACTS:  If you pay a caregiver more than $30 hours a week, there is a very good chance that the law considers your caregiver an employee.  As an employer you have a responsibility to follow all applicable labor laws and regulations including: paying FICA, providing paid breaks and unpaid lunch periods, accurately tracking hours worked, paying overtime, paying workers compensation if there is an on the job injury.  Failure to do so can result in back payment and civil penalties.  See the following publications for more information on your legal responsibilities

Hiring In Home Help Guide

IRS Household Employers Guide

EDD Household Employment Info Sheet and Full Guide

Myth #4.  If I can easily hire a live in caregiver.  It is less expensive.

THE FACTS: Live in caregiving usually creates a complicated legal relationship between the caregiver and the care receiver  (employer, roommate and landlord).  When things don’t go as planned it can be a nightmare to resolve (see the recent case in the news as an example).  There are ways to establish a live in caregiving situation that avoids these pitfalls, but it requires research and a good understanding of the law (or an attorney).  The law also requires that caregivers be paid for every hour they are available for work.  (Domestic Worker’ Wage and Hour Rights) With recent changes to the laws regarding overtime payment, here are the minimum costs for the associated work hour arrangements.

Myth #5.  I will lose my independence if I get a caregiver

THE FACTS: Home care is a tool for retaining independence and quality of life. In home care is for people who need some assistance to remain independent, safe and happy in their homes.  It can feel a little uncomfortable getting assistance with tasks a senior has always done for his or herself, but the senior is the supervisor and the caregiver is the employee.

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