Medicare Coverage of Home Safety Inspection for Seniors
- A home safety inspection for seniors can prevent serious injuries caused by in-home hazards. Learn more about Medicare coverage for this type of inspection.
If you want to stay in your home as you get older, it's important to identify and address safety hazards that could cause serious injuries. For Medicare beneficiaries, a home safety inspection for seniors is covered under Medicare Part B as long as it's ordered by a doctor or other licensed medical professional. Here's what you can expect if your health care provider orders a home safety assessment.
Who Performs Home Safety Evaluations?
A home safety inspection for seniors is typically performed by a physical or an occupational therapist. These health professionals understand how the aging process affects physical and cognitive functioning, so they're well-suited to identifying potential hazards in a senior's home.
What Would Be Included in a Home Safety Evaluation?
Residential fires are dangerous for people of any age, but older adults have a much higher risk of fire-related injuries. During a home safety inspection for seniors, the assessor checks for potential fire hazards, discusses fire safety with the homeowner and makes sure the home has working smoke detectors and fire extinguishers.
If your health care provider orders a home safety assessment, be prepared to discuss the following topics:
- Your knowledge of fire prevention techniques
- The location of all the exits in your home
- Common causes of residential fires
- Dangers related to smoking in the home
- Fire safety when using oxygen
During a home safety inspection for seniors, the home health worker looks for structural problems that increase the risk of falling. Potential hazards include holes in the flooring, loose floorboards and damaged stairs. They'll also make sure your home is well-ventilated and has doors that are wide enough for you to enter and exit safely.
In the United States, an older adult falls once every second. Falls occur for many reasons, including poor balance, cognitive decline and the use of medications that cause drowsiness and dizziness. During a home safety assessment, the home health worker looks for the following hazards:
- Clutter in hallways and stairways
- Extension cords stretched across walkways
- Loose carpeting and tiles
- Leaky pipes
- Furniture that tips over easily
- Stairways without hand rails
- Pets that could cause you to trip
- Poor lighting that makes it difficult to see objects in walkways
- Lack of grab bars in the bathroom
- Bath mats and area rugs that don't have non-slip backing
- Slippery flooring materials
If you need durable medical equipment that uses electric power, the assessor will also look for any potential problems with the electrical system in your home. This includes checking the outlets and making sure the wiring is safe.
How Can You Address the Hazards Identified During a Home Safety Assessment?
Some hazards are easy to address. For example, if the assessor believes that an area rug is unsafe, you can easily replace it with a new rug that has non-slip backing. You can also have a loved one help you remove clutter from stairways, move extension cords and add new lighting or grab bars where needed.
Structural and electrical hazards are more difficult to address, but it's important to take care of them to reduce your risk of injury at home. You may need to hire an electrician, a contractor or a plumber to fix wiring problems, replace damaged flooring and repair or replace leaky pipes.
Are Home Safety Inspections for Seniors Free With Medicare Benefits?
Home safety inspections are covered by Medicare Part B, which requires coinsurance for most services. If you haven't met your Part B deductible yet, you may have to pay for the inspection yourself. For 2022, the Medicare Part B deductible is $233. Even if you've met your deductible, you may have to pay a percentage of the Medicare-approved amount to meet your coinsurance obligation. Contact Medicare to ask how much you can expect to pay for a safety assessment.