cost of home care

Cost of home care: Average out of pocket costs in 2022

Many people prefer to live at home as they age, for as long as they can. Aging in place is a term defined by the CDC as the ability for one to live in their own home safely and independently, regardless of age or income. Home is truly where the heart is, and for many, it brings a level of comfort that an assisted living community just can’t. However, aging often requires more attention and care when it comes to a person’s health. That's where in-home care comes in.

In-home care is an option for seniors who require assistance in their homes as they age in place. This care is delivered by trained aides who help individuals with ADLs (activities of daily living), IADLS (instrumental activities of daily living), and more day-to-day management of their lives and well-being. As great as the idea sounds to have a home health aide, the costs can be incredibly high. Keep reading to discover the true cost of in-home care and how to determine what the out-of-pocket costs may be.

Types of services provided by home healthcare aides

There are several types of in-home care services. These services—or some of them, depending on your specific needs—will be provided if you decide this is the right choice for yourself or a loved one.

home caregiver with patient

Examples include:

  • Personal hygiene and care assistance for bathing, dressing, grooming, and brushing teeth
  • Assistant with using the bathroom
  • Meal prep and grocery shopping
  • Light housekeeping, such as laundry, dishes, dusting, cleaning
  • Running errands and helping with around-the-house tasks
  • Meal preparation and serving/feeding
  • Providing transportation
  • Medication management and administration
  • Home safety modifications and management
  • Monitor vitals and record a client's condition each day
  • Offer companionship and socialization

There are other services that home health aides may provide as well. Oftentimes, familial caregivers can also manage many of these tasks. However, it can become quite a burden or inaccessible if they live in different areas. So hiring a home health assistant often becomes the best choice.

The cost of home care today

By 2030, the number of people aged 65 and older will reach 71 million. Many of these older adults will require personal care services, such as assisted living communities and skilled nursing care in the home. And this number won't be slowing down anytime soon; the need for in-home care will only grow from here, both via demand and cost.

That leads us to our next point. Assisted living facilities and home health care services are both expensive, and deciding between in-home care vs. care in a facility can prove challenging. We hope that this cost breakdown will help you determine which is best for your needs.

A few fast facts about the cost of in-home care:

  • The majority of home care agencies charge by the hour vs. monthly contracts.
  • Location, level of care, and licensing requirements can all drastically affect the cost of in-home care.
  • The demand for in-home care is surging, and the cost rose nearly 3.80% from 2004 to 2020.
  • Currently, for full-time (40 hr/week) in-home care for seniors, the median monthly cost is almost $4,500.

According to the Genworth Cost of Care Survey 2004-2020, the current annual cost for a private room in a nursing home is $105,000+. Assisted living facilities, home health aides, and home care homemakers are nearly half the cost sitting around $50,000 to $55,000 annually. That's a drastic jump, thus why in-home care becomes a very viable option for many who would choose to age in place over uprooting to a nursing home.

home care service

How much will in-home care cost in the future?

In-home healthcare costs can change drastically depending on several factors—location is one of the greatest. For example, Washington state is one of the most expensive states at $31.16/hr, but Louisiana is one of the lowest at $17/hr. The Cost of Care Survey takes a deeper dive into the hourly, monthly, weekly, and monthly rates of in-home care for the next 50 years.

The current median hourly rate for a Home Health Aide in the U.S. stands at around $24/hr. This number will grow dramatically over the next few decades (at 3% inflation) as such:

2030 — $32.25/hr

2040 — $43.35/hr

2050 — $58.25/hr

2060 — $78.29/hr

2070 — $105.21/hr

As you can see, in 50 years, when many young college grads will be reaching the age of needing long-term care, they can expect to pay nearly $100 an hour for an in-home care aide. However, we know advancements in technology and healthcare continue to make it easier and more realistic to live longer and healthier lives.

For continued support, while aging in place, reach out to Ōmcare. Our Home Health Hubs make it easier than ever to manage medications at home and prolong or replace the need for an in-home aide. Our easy-to-use system can make medication administration fast, easy, and safe while allowing for remote telehealth visits and connecting with loved ones. Reach out today for more information.


6 of the best medication delivery companies compared (2021 update)

Today we can get just about anything delivered. Do you want Mcdonald's delivered at 2 am? No problem, order DoorDash. Do you need to furnish your new home but don't have a truck to haul furniture? No worries, Slumberland will deliver everything to your door (and carry it inside)! But what about medication?

Pharmacies have long offered prescription delivery services but with less-than-convenient times and offerings. Thankfully, that has changed significantly in the last decade to the point where there are dozens of prescription delivery service companies to choose from. Choosing one can be overwhelming, so we thought we'd help by narrowing down a list of the best medication delivery companies in 2021.

PillPack

PillPack is one of the most popular names in prescription delivery, and even more so after being purchased by Amazon Pharmacy in 2019. PillPack has changed the game when it comes to medication management. They offer free home delivery, and users only pay for their med copays, PillPack takes care of the rest.

After signing up, users send in their medication details, then PillPack works with their doctors or pharmacies to sort out all prescription and non-prescription items (like vitamins and supplements). Then, everything is delivered in conveniently packed daily pouches. It's easy, affordable, and convenient.

Capsule

Capsule currently only delivers to 13 major cities around the country, including the Twin Cities (and their surrounding zip codes). Still, they are well on their way to becoming one of the most used prescription delivery services around. Capsule offers same day delivery of your prescriptions, even if you're a new customer.

They have pharmacists who care and want to make it as easy as possible for anyone to get their medications delivered to their door with no hassle. Capsule can become your new pharmacy with the help of your doctor and accepts any insurance.

medication delivery companies

ExactCare

ExactCare is one prescription delivery service that goes beyond just convenient home deliveries. They also partner with nursing homes, home health workers, and manufacturers to create a more well-rounded medication management system and help improve patient health outcomes.

In addition to packaging and delivering medications to your home, ExactCare also provides comprehensive support services to ensure your medication is managed and adjusted to be as effective as possible, especially when treating chronic diseases.

ZipDrug

Recently merged with IngenioRx, ZipDrug is making huge advancements in medication adherence and prescription care for patients with chronic conditions. However, they are opposed to common industry issues like Medicare Advantage patients being prescribed the most expensive option, more recurring medications, and paying way too much in general. So, ZipDrug steps in and connects people with the best, most affordable pharmacies in their area who work best for their health plans and their care.

They even reward pharmacies who take steps toward improving medication adherence in patients who get drugs delivered by ZipDrug. It's a win-win for everyone and provides beneficial pharmacy services on the go.

DivvyDOSE

DivvyDOSE is very similar to PillPack since they package all of a patient’s medications into one neat daily pouch that you can just open, take your meds, and go on living your life without worry. The convenience factor is huge, not to mention free delivery, free packaging, and they accept all major health insurance plans.

With DivvyDOSE, you'll never run out of refills because they remind you and take care of contacting your doctor. They will also include a small medication card that fits into a wallet, so no matter where you are, you always have your most up-to-date script info.

Simple Meds

A small team with a big purpose, Simple Meds is adding to the top contenders changing how prescription drugs are managed for good. No one should have to worry about how or when their prescriptions are getting filled. With Simple Meds, members get simple, easy medication management with no hidden fees.

Finding the Best for You

Many similar companies are paving the way for better and more advanced medication adherence efforts. Most companies will work with your insurance company, get your prescriptions filled, and deliver them right to your door, hassle-free. But these companies mentioned above have proven to be some of the best in the industry, and we're excited to follow where they go.

Of course, we'd be remiss not to mention Ōmcare's efforts to improve medication management as well. For example, our convenient prescription delivery service ensures our Home Health Hub stays fully loaded with proper daily dosage in easy-to-open pouches, shipped out every single month. For more information on how Ōmcare can help you or your loved ones get their prescription dispensed on time with convenient delivery, reach out today.


Healthcare worker shortage forces creativity to deliver care more efficiently

There is currently a massive shortage of healthcare workers across the nation, at all levels of care. However, the extremes are hitting facilities, like nursing homes and assisted living facilities, which rely on lower or non-credentialed healthcare workers to assist nurses and doctors day-to-day.

Some lower credentialed positions struggling to stay staffed include medical assistants, home health aides, and pharmacy technicians. The National Community Pharmacists Association (NCPA) conducted a survey in June 2021 that showed some astounding statistics about the state of the nation’s pharmacies.

Currently, four in five pharmacies are struggling to staff enough workers to handle patients, deliver prescriptions, and simply manage the cash registers. There are many reasons for this including people leaving positions (during the pandemic) where they are exposed to more people or finding work elsewhere for more pay, but also the growing aging population is heavily affecting the need for healthcare workers.

 

What is driving the healthcare worker shortage?

The baby boomer population makes up nearly a quarter of the entire population of the United States. This population is now reaching the age where they have higher healthcare needs, and it’s not slowing down any time soon.

The United Nations put together a document on world population aging, and there are some pretty astounding statistics regarding growth and trends.

  • By 2050, people 60 and older will make up 25% of America's population.
  • The global population of people 80 and older is projected to triple between 2017 and 2050.
  • The U.S. birthrate dropped by 4% in 2020, and it's expected by 2030, older persons will vastly outnumber children ages ten and under.

As these older generations continue to grow, the need for healthcare does as well. And with many people leaving the healthcare industry and not being replaced with incoming workers, the shortage continues.

How can the industry combat these shortages?

One of the biggest issues with these lower-credentialed jobs is low wages (not to mention the competition from other industries right now). In the state of Minnesota, a personal care attendant (PCA) is one of the most in-demand jobs, but the median annual wage is $28,562 per year.

The government is doing what it can to help with the healthcare worker shortage, but that does not seem to be enough. A recent proposal from Minnesota Governor Tim Walz is urging the healthcare industry to increase wages for home care workers. Unfortunately, the care service clients with PCAs receive are funded by Minnesota’s Medicaid program. This means the rate the state will pay for services is completely dictated (and capped) by the state Legislature—these low rates barely cover the cost of care. So how will they ever be able to pay home health aides more?

Another way the industry is combating this huge shortage is by hiring people with more experience working in the healthcare field, for lower-level positions. A new market has popped up for those who have been retired from their career of being a nurse, doctor, or medical assistant and want to get back into the workforce as an on-call position that will work within certain hours they can accommodate.

That trend may become one of the more popular ways to fill the gap in lower-level healthcare workers, but it's not an ideal situation due to higher costs and unnecessary credentials. There are other ways to fill these gaps and help alleviate the worker shortage.

One way is to introduce technology and other automation to ensure at-home care is never sacrificed due to staffing shortages, for example, technology services like Doctor On Demand. Doctor on Demand allows patients to quickly and easily get standard checkups and prescription refill appointments over video chat, from the comfort of their homes.

How Ōmcare helps

Ōmcare is a hardware and software solution that helps alleviate the need for in-home nurses, especially for older individuals who need consistent medication management. After installing an Ōmcare Home Health Hub in a patient’s home, an uncredentialed worker can make calls, cheaply and efficiently, multiple times a day to walk a patient through medication management.

The Ōmcare Home Health Hub allows for staff to scale their time, instead of running from home to home, while still providing high-touch and seamless care. If you’re interested in integrating a Home Health Hub into your patients' homes and alleviating the burden on your care staff and HR hiring team, contact us today for more information.


Risk adjustment: what is it and how does it impact Healthcare for 2022

Risk adjustment is one tool that helps determine insurance eligibility and premiums, as well as reimbursements for providers. It allows insurance providers to compare members and determine which ones have higher risks of developing certain conditions or require more care than others. This information can then be used by regulators for setting appropriate reimbursement rates for different providers.

So, beyond that what exactly is risk adjustment? Why does it matter? And why will it continue impacting the way we approach health costs over the next several years?

What is the purpose of risk adjustment?

The official definition of risk adjustment, according to HealthCare.gov, is “a statistical process that takes into account the underlying health status and health spending of the enrollees in an insurance plan when looking at their health care outcomes or health care costs.”

To understand risk adjustment, you first need to know how it is calculated. The calculation of an enrollee's risk score begins with their demographics and HCCs; a.k.a. the medical codes for their conditions.

To make sure that insurance providers are reimbursed fairly and accurately for services rendered, every member ends up with a unique risk score based on various demographic factors (such as age) combined together from predefined categories called Hierarchical Condition Categories or "HCC".

The demographic factors used to calculate risk scores include:

  • Age
  • Sex
  • Socioeconomic data
  • Disability status or eligibility
  • Medicaid eligibility
  • Institutional status (nursing homes, inpatient care, etc.)

The demographics are paired with an enrollee's list of diagnoses. These codes have all been assigned a specific value for risk adjustment. They're part of the standard ICD-10 coding system used in healthcare -- which assigns codes to every diagnosis based on many factors like severity, location, and condition.

HCCs with lower numbers are higher in severity on the scale and thus would raise someone's risk score. For example, diabetes that is well-managed with no complications would have an HCC of 19, while diabetes in full ketoacidosis would be an HCC 17, which is more severe than the 19. These numbers, paired with the demographic information, would determine how much risk adjustment is necessary for this enrollee.

HCCs and demographics are the two factors that might most affect someone's premium and eligibility in some medicare plans. In addition, people without chronic conditions might have more fluctuation in their risk scores due to diagnosis changing year over year. Still, those who require consistent treatment will likely remain in a high-risk adjustment program.

What are risk adjustment factor scores (RAF)?

Risk Adjustment Factors -- known as RAFs -- are the average risk scores for specific HCCs. They're used in combination with demographics to determine an individual's final risk score. The higher a person's RAF, the more likely it is that they'll end up in high-risk adjustment programs or see increased premiums due to their diagnosis and demographic information.

Health plans use special algorithms paired with patient RAF scores to predict costs. Patients with multiple chronic conditions would have a higher RAF score, thus likely having more healthcare needs with higher costs.

Why does this matter? Since risk adjustment is a calculation that takes into account both demographics and the severity of an enrollee's diagnosis, HCCs will have more of an impact on premiums than ever before.

There's no doubt that risk adjustment will continue to be a complex topic for healthcare professionals and insurance providers alike as we enter 2022. There are still many questions as to how this will play out in the future of healthcare, but there's one thing that seems clear: risk adjustment is going to have a very real impact on every aspect of care and coverage moving forward.

Patients with high RAF scores can always apply for a Medigap or Medicare Supplemental Insurance plan to offset added costs not covered by their Medicare plan. In 2021, there are ten different types of Medicare supplemental plans (Medigap) available in most states. Each is indicated with a different letter: A, B, C, D, F, G, K, L, M, or N. A Medigap policy would help people pay remaining healthcare costs like deductibles, coinsurance, or copayments—in other words, fill the gaps that aren't covered by Medicare plans.

What are the three risk adjustment models?

Depending on the situation, there are three different ways to adjust for risk. Each model has a different purpose and goal in mind.

CDPS — Chronic Illness and Disability Payment Systems

The first model is called CDPS and is used by state Medicaid programs for making capitated (fixed) payments to Medicaid HMOs for disabled enrollees. It may also be used for TANF (Temporary Assistance to Needy Families) for short-term assistance.

There are some precise characteristics of the CDPS model that make it stand out from the others. These are:

  • There are 20 hierarchical categories of diagnoses that group them by body system or diagnosis type.
  • A focus on those who need the most care.
  • Each category has subcategories that showcase their degree of expenditure, affected by the severity of the diagnosis.
  • Hierarchies are applied to every major category and count only the highest cost diagnosis. For example, if someone had two conditions under the cardiovascular category, the higher cost condition would be counted.
  • Patients can have multiple diagnoses across different categories.
  • This model has been adjusted multiple times to account for changes in medical coding.

understanding healthcare risk adjustmentsHCC — Hierarchical Condition Category

There are actually two forms of HCC: CMS and HHS. The CMS-HCC was developed after a mandate via the Balanced Budget Act of 1997 to adjust capitation payments based on its enrollees’ health status and demographics. Meanwhile, HHS-HCC came as a result of the Affordable Care Act. It intended to stabilize premiums for health plans offered on and off the Health and Humans Services health plan exchange. In addition, this model allowed for states who didn't want to operate their own risk adjustment program to use the HHS risk adjustment program.

CMS-HCC

  • Hierarchies are applied so that only the most severe or highest cost diagnosis is counted in each category—similar to the CDPS model.
  • All diagnosis codes are organized into 805 diagnostics groups, which are then organized into 189 conditional categories for a broad picture view.
  • The variables that most impact one's risk adjustment are: disability status, low-income status, Medicaid, the reason for entitlement, age, and sex.
  • They utilize prospective modeling, meaning they use previous year data to predict cost in the current year vs. concurrent modeling, which uses current year data.
  • They use an additive model where multiple categories can be added together to determine risk.
  • This model uses separate calculations for long-term care vs. new enrollees.
  • There is an entirely separate risk model for enrolled with ESRD (end-stage renal disease).

HHS-HCC

  • HHS-HCC is the newest model, implemented in 2014.
  • They work on a risk pool model, meaning its budget-neutral by transferring funds from low-risk plans to high-risk enrollee plans.
  • Again, only the most severe or highest-cost diagnoses are counted.
  • Age and sex are the demographics that most affect risk scores.
  • This model uses a concurrent model, using current year data to predict this year's costs, unlike the CMS-HCC that uses prospective modeling.
  • This model includes 127 out of the 189 conditional categories that best predict expenses, focusing more on chronic diseases.
  • Depending on the plan level (platinum, gold, silver, bronze, catastrophic), there may be separate calculations due to plans' varying actuarial value. Actuarial value is the total average of costs for covered benefits. For example, if a plan has an actuarial value of 80%, it means the enrollee is responsible for the remaining 20% of costs on all covered benefits.

ACG — Ambulatory Care Groups

Lastly, the ACG model was developed with a completely different approach than the other two. This model assigns diagnosis codes using 32 ambulatory diagnostics groups based on how the condition might affect an enrollee's health and resource needs. For example, the likelihood of disability, reduced life expectancy, or needs for specialists, therapy, or hospice care is all highly considered under this model. This model is often referred to as the Case Mix model because it is used for both risk adjustment and research.

case mix healthcare risk adjustmentRisk Adjustment and Healthcare

Risk adjustment allows for proper cost adjustments as well as setting a standard of premiums for high-risk enrollees. This is because people who are sick or have chronic conditions will be more expensive to treat than someone with few or no health issues. Overall this risk adjustment aims to provide the appropriate funding based on the severity of an enrollee's health condition.

It's a complex system that plans and providers need to have a plan for in order to create budgets properly, adjust plan coverage, and give enrollees the best possible care options. The Ōmcare Home Health Hub allows plans and providers to manage their risk by capturing RAFs (risk adjustment factors) over telehealth visits and ensures medication assistance, leading to healthier outcomes.

We are trying to make chronic care easier and more effective by allowing flexible, at-home care. If you have any questions regarding risk adjustment or bettering care for high-risk patients, reach out to us today!


get regular exercise to age well

Senior health: 11 tips for aging well

There are many ways that you can strive towards staying healthy and active as you age. A combination of diet, exercise, and mental wellness can help us age gracefully and maintain our independence for longer. These health tips can help you or your aging loved ones to feel better, longer.

Tips for aging well in 2021.

As you get older, your minds and bodies change, and it becomes more critical than ever to take care of yourself. Here are some tips for successful senior health management and ensuring a long, happy, healthy life.

Maintain a healthy diet

healthy diet to age well; senior health

While it may be harder to maintain a good diet for older adults, senior health experts agree that a good diet is one of the most important factors in health outcomes. Everyone needs food A high in vitamins and protein for strong bones and muscles, which means eating plenty of lean protein sources (chicken, turkey, and fish especially), fresh produce, whole grains like brown rice or quinoa, beans, or other legumes. Studies show a healthier diet for older adults can improve cognitive function and disease control.

Taking supplements

As you age, there are critical nutrients the body becomes depleted of. Be especially cognizant of your levels of each nutrient below and talk to your doctor about supplementing if necessary.

  • Vitamin D is essential for boosting the immune system.
  • Vitamin C is an antioxidant that helps improve the overall function of our bodies by boosting vitamin absorption, wound healing, and aids in vision and organ function.
  • Calcium is essential for bone and teeth health.
  • Vitamin A is good for heart, lung, and liver health.
  • B Vitamins must be replaced as you age because our bodies become less efficient at absorbing B vitamins from the foods we eat. B12 deficiency can negatively affect brain function and only increases our chances of memory loss, high blood pressure, and nerve pain.

Get regular exercise

get regular exercise to age well; senior health

Specific exercises and specialized training may be better than others, depending on your health or any chronic pain. For example:

For those who experience joint pain, walking or swimming at low-impact levels can still help strengthen muscles without putting too much pressure on the joints. Even just daily walks around the block can make a big difference in senior wellness. Aerobic activities like dancing or yoga have been shown to improve mood, which also helps fight chronic illness symptoms like depression and anxiety. If mobility is an issue, tai chi classes where movements are done slowly with concentration can be easier on the body while being both meditative and strengthening.

Focus on mental wellness

Mental health in the elderly can be a big issue that often gets left behind. Mental health is severely affected by the loss of loved ones, feelings of isolation, and the physical and mental changes that come with aging. Talking about it in therapy, or with loved ones, or even acknowledging feelings of anxiety and depression can be the right step towards mental wellness.

Hobbies for keeping busy

hobbies to keep busy; senior health

Staying busy can help alleviate feelings of loneliness and boredom, especially for older patients living in a senior healthcare facility. Some hobbies good for seniors include arts and crafts, painting, playing card games, or even gardening on the property. Doing things they once enjoyed may not always be an option for them, so finding fun hobbies to pass the time can be a crucial component to maintaining overall wellness in seniors.

Caring for skin and teeth

Dermatologists always say the best skincare in your 50s is proper skincare in your 20s. Unfortunately, we can't turn back the clock on our skin but can always do things to maintain it and keep it healthy. The number one thing seniors should do to protect their skin is to wear sunscreen every day. Skin cancer is prevalent in older adults, especially those who did not wear sunscreen consistently throughout their lives.

And as you age, you lose a lot of collagen, making the skin thinner and more susceptible to wounds and sun exposure. Teeth can also decline in health, and many seniors end up opting for dentures for ease. However, eating healthy, brushing regularly, and taking the proper vitamins can slow down the deterioration of skin, nails, and teeth.

Getting better sleep

Older adults often experience sleeping problems. This could be because of medications affecting sleep quality or health conditions like arthritis pain or acid reflux that can keep them up at night. If you're having trouble falling asleep at night, talk to your doctor about calming methods and supplements that may work for you.

Hydration!

staying hydrated to age well; seanior health

Drinking enough water is essential for human life. Drinking water helps hydrate your skin, organs and improve bladder and digestive health. The elderly are very prone to dehydration, so ensuring they get at least 64 ounces of water every day (the eight glasses of 8 oz. water rule) can help prevent ailments and boost overall health.

Staying social

senior health tips

The psychosocial changes of growing old can be detrimental to someone's health. Many older adults may find it hard to maintain friendships or go to the social events they once did before they dealt with chronic illness or pain. However, socializing is a normal part of life, and without it, one can feel more lonely and depressed, which can actually lead to more medical problems. Therefore, caregivers and elderly care facilities need to make sure they keep a full calendar of social events that everyone can enjoy together each week—from bingo to dances to playing cards.

Routine medical care and tests

Regular health maintenance and prevention are vital to better health outcomes. There are some routine tests and treatments that can significantly improve the health of older individuals by ensuring their care plan is appropriate and catching any issues early before they become worse.

  • Get vaccinated for influenza, pneumonia, and shingles (if applicable)
  • Regular cancer screenings (breast, colon, prostate)
  • Bone density scans for osteoporosis
  • Blood pressure readings
  • Check blood sugar levels to check for diabetes
  • Lipid screening
  • Check for high cholesterol and other blood tests
  • Annual physicals

Additional safety measures

Elderly patients may face balance problems that require advance care planning to ensure they don't fall and injure themselves. Using a walker, wheelchair, and installing handrails in rooms or hallways can ensure they always stay safe while moving about.

By following these tips, you can go on to live a long, healthy life and address health concerns before they become chronic health conditions. Here at Omcare, we believe a healthy lifestyle is possible no matter what age, and you can enjoy living longer by focusing on better health outcomes and wellness early on.


medicare star ratings and choosing your plan

Medicare star ratings: how they work + how to compare plans

Medicare star system

If you become eligible for Medicare this year or are considering switching plans when open enrollment season starts, our guide will help you decide which plan is best for you. Before you do, it’s important to know that Medicare uses a 5-star rating system to measure the quality of health insurance plans.

Plans with higher Medicare star ratings have proven higher quality (which may mean more doctors in-network, better care, or more care options), while lower ratings have not. Knowing what these Medicare star ratings mean and how to utilize them in your search for the best health insurance can be a massive help in deciding which plan is best for you.

What are the Medicare star ratings?

Medicare uses a system that assigns each plan a star rating from one to five stars. Plans with higher ratings offer higher quality, meaning they offer better care at lower costs through well-known providers and hospitals in their network.

They also offer more favorable customer service hours and higher satisfaction ratings from beneficiaries who have used them in the past year. Although 5-star plans are ideal, this rating is extremely difficult to achieve.

The star rating breakdown:

 

5 star medicare star rating

Five stars

The highest possible rating given by Medicare and means that beneficiaries will have access to a wide range of doctors, hospitals, and other providers in their network without cost-sharing or restrictions. This includes specialists such as cardiologists and cancer surgeons—even if they're outside your plan's local area.

You'll also be able to see all pricing information before you sign up for coverage, so you'll know how much each doctor visit costs ahead of time. And when it comes time to go into the hospital or need nursing home care, there won't likely be any surprises about what bills might come due since everything should already be spelled out in your plan.

 

4 star medicare rating

Four stars

The next highest rating and means that beneficiaries will continue to have access to a broad range of doctors, hospitals, and providers in their network. This plan is considered above average and the highest number of Medicare plans fall into this rating.

 

Three stars

Three stars indicate that beneficiaries can choose from more than one provider within their plan's healthcare providers network. This includes specialists such as cardiologists and cancer surgeons—even if they're outside your plan's local area. You'll also be able to see pricing information before you sign up for coverage, so you'll know how much each doctor visit costs ahead of time.

 

Two stars

Two stars indicate that beneficiaries can choose from one provider within their plan's network without cost-sharing or restrictions.

 

One star

One star means the beneficiary will have access to only a single, non-network physician in their region who is contracted with Medicare.

 

What Medicare Advantage Plans have a 5-star rating?

Like we said, 5-star ratings are very hard to achieve for insurance companies and the Medicare advantage plan they offer. This is done intentionally to keep competition among plans. Sometimes it's something as medial as not offering transportation coverage that can drag down their 5-star to a 4.5. Plus, a lot of their fate lies in the hands of their members, who leave reviews each year indicating how well they met all levels of care.

Medicare Advantage plans have more stringent criteria to meet their star rating than other Medicare Plans, such as prescription drug coverage.  In general, you can change your plan or enroll in a new one only during a Special Enrollment Period. Their star rating is based on how well they do in each of the following categories:

  1. Staying healthy (member access to screenings, tests, vaccines, etc.)
  2. Chronic condition management
  3. Overall satisfaction with care and health plan responsiveness
  4. Member complaints and members leaving the health plan
  5. Customer service rating

Despite these regulations and categories, there are plenty of Medicare Advantage plans with near five-star ratings to their beneficiaries. Therefore, including Medicare Advantage plans in your search for the best health insurance can be a wise decision.

Get Help From The Pros

As you search for the right Medicare plan, and Medicaid services, you can compare plans based on your specific needs, plus filter by drug coverage, special coverages, and star rating at Medicare.gov. Our Ōmcare customer care team is available 24/7 to answer any questions and provide the expert support you and your loved ones need.


Many multi-colored pills in a Senior's hands; remember to take your meds

6 (Effective) ways to remember to take your meds

How often do you struggle with remembering to take your medication? It's a common problem that can often feel difficult to overcome since it's all about solidifying that habit. Fortunately, some tools and devices are available to help you remember to take your meds on time. We're listing some of the most popular methods for how to remember to take your medications on time each day.

What happens when you miss a pill dose?

There are many reasons why people frequently miss doses: forgetfulness, changing schedules due to work or vacation plans, misplaced pills & pill boxes—the list goes on! The time of day you take your medication matters significantly, especially with those with chronic conditions with strong medications that could cause withdrawal symptoms or jeopardize their regimen.

Depending on all your medications, symptoms for missing doses can vary greatly. Going through your medication regimen as prescribed is highly important. If you're ever unsure what to do if you miss a dose, make sure you reach out to your healthcare provider.

remember to take your meds

6 Ways To Remember To Take Your Meds

You can use a few different methods to put reminders in place for when it's time to take your daily meds. Here is the list of some of the most popular methods:

Setting a daily reminder or alarm

Set an alarm on your phone or create calendar slots with reminder notifications. If it's too easy to hit snooze on your smartphone or you don't always have your calendar handy, you may need another method. For example, try setting an alarm and placing it next to your pill box so you'll remember to take your pill when you walk over to shut it off.

Use a manual pill dispenser

Choose the same day each week (many choose Sunday) and put all of your pills in their respective day slots in a pill organizer. That way, you can quickly and easily see whether or not you've taken that day's pills. It's a less automated way of doing things but can still help those who take multiple meds per day.

Many multi-colored pills in a Senior's hands; remember to take your meds

Pair the action with activities every day

Taking your medication on time becomes more attainable when it’s a habit. And most of us already have daily habits like brushing your teeth in the morning or washing your face before bed. By pairing your dose with a daily routine, remembering becomes easier each day.

Notification devices

Use a reminder device like a vibrating pill box or a smart wristwatch that vibrates to remind you to do things. These notification devices often come as complete kits with everything you need, so there's no need to worry about forgetting anything else.

Utilize health apps

Set reminders within health apps such as Medisafe Pill Reminder, Mango Health, MyTherapy, or MedMinder. These apps allow you to lookup drug information, set medication reminders and have the added benefit of tracking your own personal medication records.

remember to take your meds

Automatic pill dispensers

Automatic pill dispensers are devices with built-in schedules so you can be reminded and dispense your medication the minute it’s due. These devices have helped bridge the gap between patients, family members, and doctors who must ensure the prescription is taken as directed. For older adults remembering to take the meds can be quite difficult: these automatic pill dispensers make it easy.

How Omcare Can Help!

Ōmcare has invented the Ōmcare Home Health Hub, which includes a high-tech pill dispenser with additional easy-to-use features and the R ball. Using advanced technology, we've crafted a device that offers video support on top of automatic dispensing: no more blister packs, cumbersome refills, reminders, or last-minute calls to the pharmacist. Ōmcare's Home Health Hub takes care of everything and ensures you or your loved ones never forget to take their medication. Our Ōmcare customer care team is available 24/7 to answer any questions and provide the expert support you and your loved ones need.


Staying connected and caring during a health crisis

Information surfaces hourly about the newly classified pandemic COVID-19, and the headlines can be alarming.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advises that people over 80 years of age with major illnesses have the greatest risk and should take extra precautions, such as staying in their place of residence and limiting the amount of exposure to other people, including family members and caregivers. Meanwhile, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has issued guidelines for restricting access to residents in skilled nursing facilities.

If you’re caring for an aging loved one who is either living independently or in nursing home, these guidelines can raise concerns about feelings of loneliness and isolation, as well as adherence with medication or other care plans for your loved one. Technology can play a significant role in keeping family members, patients, and care providers connected while decreasing the risk of exposure to COVID-19 or influenza – which is still a primary cause of illness, complications, and death for seniors.

3 ways technology can enable care, from anywhere during a health crisis

  1. Stay socially connected. Healthy adults can do their part to mitigate loneliness for the older population by introducing them to technology such as FaceTime or Skype. Take a few minutes to install the app on an iPad, tablet or smartphone, provide a bit of training, and encourage family members to connect with seniors online, in theevent that in-person visits are prohibited.
  2. Manage medications. A consistent care routine is the foundation of a successful, long-term care plan and is especially important when visits from a caregiver are limited. Use two-way video capabilities to remind loved ones of when to take their medications and to oversee that process. If needed, you can even dial in a clinical care provider for a three-way call.
  3. Conduct virtual visits. Nearly half of family caregivers travel to care for someone. If you’re worried about exposing your loved ones to COVID-19 or influenza, lean on systems like Google Nest and Amazon’s Alexa to ensure that all systems are “go” for seniors who live alone at home.

While the current situation is frightening and confusing for everyone, now is the time to use technology to unite health care providers and caregivers, and to foster communication and support that is essential to keeping everyone healthy. Our team at Ōmcare is committed to applying our expertise in video communications and remote care technology to change the way the world cares. We welcome the opportunity to share information with you about the Ōmcare Home Health HubTM and how it will enable caregivers of all types to provide support, care, and medication assistance from anywhere for older adults and people with chronic conditions.

In good health,

Lisa Lavin

Founder & CEO, Ōmcare


3 Strategies to help aging loved ones master their meds

Despite the widespread use of tools like lockable pill boxes and smartphone apps, it’s estimated that only half of patients take their medications as prescribed. In September of 2018, the American College of Physicians reported that medication non-adherence accounts for 30% to 50% of treatment failures and 1-in-4 hospital admissions.

Medication non-adherence directly impacts the senior population, wherein millions of seniors depend on a home care aide or family caregiver to administer medication. Managing the dosages and schedules of multiple drugs can be a complicated, confusing, and even stressful task for caregivers. As a result, part-time family caregivers often experience anxiety related to not knowing if their loved one has taken the right medication at the right time.

If you or someone you know is a caregiver, or if you’re concerned about medication management for a loved one or family friend, here are three strategies to help ensure they take the right medication at the right time.

1. Establish a routine and method of reminders.

A consistent care routine is the foundation of a successful, long-term care plan. Following a simple, memorable routine and reminder system can help aging loved ones remember to take their medications throughout the day, even if their caregiver can’t always be there to remind them.

Continue reading on The Caregiver's Voice.


Podcast: Lisa Lavin on game-changing technology for seniors

health innovation matters podcast interview

Ōmcare founder and CEO Lisa Lavin was recently interviewed for the podcast Health Innovation Matters.

In this episode, Logan Plaster, editor of StartUp Health, mixes the personal with business as he interviews Lisa about the source of her passion for changing the caregiving experience and how technology can extend the reach of caregivers and ensure the right medication is taken by the right person at the right time.

Tune in to the podcast episode: https://healthinnovationmatters.libsyn.com/mcare-with-logan-plaster-and-lisa-lavin