Part 2 - Part 1 of this two-part series on home healthcare discussed the challenges facing firms in the home health care market. Because the market is growing so rapidly (5% annually), insurance agents see an opportunity to expand their books of business. I’m not one to discourage any agent from tapping a market; however, as a senior executive experienced in this market, I offer words of caution: don’t dabble in the home healthcare market without taking the time and effort to fully understand and address its unique challenges.
From a workers’ compensation standpoint, the home healthcare market can present many “nightmare scenarios” that can result in large claims. Agents who take this market lightly and do not proactively prescreen a home health care firm do themselves and their prospective client a tremendous disservice.
Consider the following examples of the unique challenges faced by the industry:
- Many caregivers do not have access to equipment to assist in lifting a patient from their bed or chair. Such an act requires strength that most people don’t possess and exposes them to injury.
- There is wide disparity between one firm to another in the amount of driving that is required. One firm may operate within a 10-mile radius while another works within a 50-mile radius. After a stressful day, extra time on the road can add to the risk of injury.
- The standards and services set by individual firms can also vary widely. Some employ nurses and other licensed practitioners to provide caregiving services while other firms rely on primarily unskilled labor to perform housekeeping duties rather than medical duties. Regardless of the duties performed, the environment in which any caregiver must work varies widely from client to client. Without a screening process, a firm could send a caregiver unprepared into a home inhabited by a hoarder forcing them to navigate through debris and clutter thus risking a fall or other injury or exposure to unsanitary conditions.. Such an environment can significantly impair a caregiver’s own ability to maneuver around the home let alone their ability to assist a patient through the debris to get them out of bed or take them to the bathroom.
There are countless other exposures that an inexperienced agent can overlook. Nevertheless, there are three ironclad rules an agent must follow in serving this market:
- The home healthcare firm must conduct background checks on every prospective employee -- no exceptions.
- Before accepting a client, always conduct a pre-contract inspection of the home. A caregiver always needs to know what type of environment they are walking into to be confident that it is safe for them to perform the duties for which they are being hired.
- Under no circumstances should a caregiver be required to physically pick up a patient.
*Patriot Underwriters, Inc. conducts insurance business in all of its licensed states as PUI INSURANCE AGENCY