Holidays Highlight the Value of Home-Based Health Care

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Millions of seniors and people living with disabilities will enjoy Thanksgiving and other holidays in the comfort and safety of their own homes thanks to home medical equipment and services such as oxygen therapy, hospital beds, and wheelchairs.

Home-based care allows people to live independently at home, which is the most cost-effective setting for many types of care, says the American Association for Homecare.

Facts about Homecare

>>More than eight million Americans depend on durable medical equipment and services at home to treat conditions such as multiple sclerosis, Lou Gehrig's disease, spinal cord injuries, lung disease such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), congestive heart failure, sleep apnea, and diabetes. Virtually every type of health care short of surgery can be delivered in the home. 

>>Americans would rather receive care at home according to surveys by AARP and other organizations. A 2011 Harris Interactive survey about spending priorities for health care found that 79 percent of Americans believe the federal government should strengthen patient access to home medical equipment and services and 61 percent favor investment in community- or home-based care to improve cost-effective health care.

>>Providers of home medical equipment and services help prevent ER visits and hospitalization and enable hospitals to discharge patients on a timely basis to post-acute care at home, which reduces length of hospital stays and lowers spending in the healthcare system.

>>In emergencies like Hurricane Sandy where power is lost, home medical equipment providers serve as first responders.  A power outage can be deadly for a person who requires a ventilator or an oxygen concentrator.  In a catastrophic flu pandemic, home-based care will play a large role in treating flu victims.