The devil is in the detail when it comes to Home Care Package fees
It’s now a week since people receiving a government Home Care Package have had the ability to move their care from their existing provider to another approved care provider of their choice. The Increasing Choice in Home Care reforms came into effect on 27th February.
But whether consumers yet fully understand what this change means to them and are in a position to really maximise this more competitive, consumer-led market – as well as avoid its pitfalls – is less clear.
In a snapshot poll we conducted a few days before these changes came into effect, nearly half (48%) of the people we spoke to who either had a Home Care Package themselves or helped a family member manage their Package, said they weren’t aware of the upcoming changes or, had heard something about it but didn’t really understand it.
A quarter (26%) of respondents said they were likely to change their care provider. Are the remainder happy with their current care or do they simply not know enough about how these change could benefit them?
The devil is in the detail or so the saying goes. And this could certainly be the case for consumers who are not aware of some providers’ cost structures which could see up to half of their Home Care Package funds disappearing in administration, case management and exit fees.
With no maximum cap on the fees a provider can charge, we are currently seeing administration fees of up to 20% of the total funding available and case management fees of up to 35%.
At Absolute Care & Health, we’ve been providing privately funded in-home care for long enough to know that we don’t need high administration or case management fees to provide high-quality care. We will be keeping our fees at no more than 10% in total. Meaning that at least 90% of Home Care Package funds are spent on actual services and care hours.
Nor do we believe in Exit Fees – a charge that providers are allowed to take from an individual’s Home Care Package funds if they have decided to move to a new provider. To what extent this charge may be putting people off from switching providers is not clear, but we firmly believe that it is our quality of care that should ensure our clients continue to use our services, not high exit fees. And we’re putting our money where our mouth is on that, with zero exit fees.
It is now obligatory for providers to publish their maximum Exit fees on the My Aged Care website. These are coming in at around $500 – $700. Providers must also publish the average percentage of Home Care Package funds that are available for services after their fees have been deducted. These figures are not yet showing on the My Aged Care website however. So consumers who don’t fully understand the changes don’t yet have all the information at their fingertips.
Over the next year, 100,000 consumers will benefit from these changes. But, if you don’t already have a Home Care Package, getting allocated one can be a bit of a waiting game. So our advice is start the process as soon as the need arises – don’t wait until things get worse.
For many, navigating the system can seem daunting at first. We frequently receive calls from people who want to understand the process better before they go to My Aged Care or who are looking for some help navigating the process.
The recent changes also include a new national waiting list, administered by My Aged Care rather than huge numbers of waiting lists held by individual providers all across the country. However, the Government can’t yet say how many people are on the list (or how long the wait is) as data is still being gathered.
Whilst a more competitive, consumer-led landscape is undoubtedly in the interests of those receiving government subsidised care, there is an element of ‘buyer-beware’ and it’s vital to understand how the process works and what the potential pitfalls are. And, for the moment at least, these seem to be the extremely high fees that many providers are charging.
 Snapshot poll conducted February 2017 via Pure Profile among 50 respondents in Victoria