House Calls or Office Visit: Three Things to Ask Yourself

Traditionally, it was thought that insurers like Medicare required that the patient be unable to leave home to qualify for house calls covered by medical insurance. However, clarifications of policies have opened the option of home health care to other patients who would likewise benefit from house calls by a doctor or nurse practitioner.

Home care will not be appropriate for all patients, though. How would you know whether a house call or a traditional office consult with the doctor is right for you? Ask yourself the following questions before you set your next medical appointment. Time, energy, and money could well be saved by picking the better option for you.

1.  Do you have a viable reason for requesting home health services?

A house consult will be convenient for some people over an office appointment with the doctor. However, citing your own convenience as the main reason for requesting a home visit might not be viewed favorably by your medical insurance.

Some physicians will cite a need to examine your living arrangements or talk to other people living with you as part of your health management. These are valid reasons for home consults that your insurance should cover. This is especially true for patients in assisted living communities. The new environment will necessitate that the physician ensure that it is conducive to the continued health of the patient. Continuing house calls will also ensure that the patient is adjusting properly to his or her new living conditions.

2.  Do you need any medical procedures or diagnostic tests?

With advances in technology, house call physicians are now equipped with medical equipment and kits that can perform basic diagnostic tests. However, for more comprehensive testing, nothing beats seeing a doctor in the clinic or in the hospital. Required imaging studies and more accurate diagnostic tests can be obtained there. If the patient will require these on check-up, then it is important that an office consult with the doctor be done. The same logic applies if there are certain medical procedures that will require the facilities of a fully equipped medical center.

3.  Will the patient benefit from having a house consult over an office consult?

Of course, for the home-bound patient, office consults are out of the question. However, there are cases when the patient isn’t home-bound but will benefit more from a private house call from a doctor or nurse practitioner. Physical handicaps that hinder mobility can sometimes necessitate house visits. Also, some patients are emotionally or cognitively unable to visit a doctor’s clinic. Finally, when privacy is of utmost importance for the patient’s well-being, then a house call is the way to go.

These are just general considerations. Inputs from the patient and those taking care of him or her on a daily basis will help determine which type of consult will be needed. This type of personalized care is just what the doctor would order and exactly what your loved one deserves.