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Can you afford home-based medical care?

Meera Siva | Updated on June 05, 2021

Many in cities are finding more options for home-based, light medical support for patients

There is no denying the fact that it takes some effort to care for old people or those recovering from illness. In normal times, assisted care facilities or clinics were a choice to support care-givers who may not be able to manage things at home. But now, with Covid infection worries and the pressures on availability of medical facility, the need for home-based care is surging.

While the availability of services may be limited in smaller town, those in cities are increasingly finding more options for home-based, light medical support needs of patients. This apart, services for wellness, food and essentials as well as help with activities associated with daily living, available now – can be a good value-addition for those recovering well. For instance, apart from health services, with lockdowns causing difficulty in getting basics such as grocery, you can sign up for various subscription services that offer home management packages for ₹7,500 per month.

Available health services

The primary requests are for Covid-19 patient care. Also, data shows that majority of patients experience only mild symptoms and can recover at home, with some level of remote medical monitoring and care. Likewise, patients are also increasingly being discharged from hospitals once they are on the path to recovery, to free-up beds ; But they may often continue to require monitoring post hospitalization to avoid a relapse.

Towards this, many hospitals and clinics offer home quarantine services and stay-at-home recovery programs. The plans include consultations with doctors, remote monitoring of vitals by nurses, expert counsellor, nutritionist, and physiotherapist. The service period may be for two weeks. The plans are priced around ₹20,000, but costs vary based on city and the services . If the symptoms are mild, you can take a lower support package - that does not come with regular monitoring and nurse helpline – for a lower cost of about ₹10,000.

If the patient was hospitalized, many hospitals now offer their own service offerings for post-discharge monitoring and recovery care. This may include not just tele-consult, but also home-visits for testing, nursing and care-takers. These services are also made available to all patients, not just limited to Covid ones. Costs vary from ₹1600 to 8000 for 24-hour care, based on the level of care (for example, skill level of nurse, based on patient’s need), agreement period (daily, weekly or longer-term) and location (metros vs smaller cities). Care-taker charges could be ₹600-4,000 per day, based on whether food is included, stay is required and requirement of activities such as cooking.

There are also private clinics and other providers in major cities who are bringing various medical services - including X-rays, special medical equipment on rent and procedures such as dialysis – to your home. The costs of some of these may be higher than doing it at a facility. A doctor visit may cost ₹500-1,000 and a nurse visit about ₹200-500. Typically, service providers do not charge additional fees, but those who take a subscription fee act as a relationship manager and offer curated set of service provider options.

Comparing options

The benefits of homecare are clear and the good thing is that is is also cheaper than full hospitalisation or stay at assisted homes. For example, your hospital bill, even if the patient does not get specialized procedures, will be a few thousand rupees a day and a week’s stay may set you back by upto one lakh rupees. Likewise, stay at assisted living homes may cost you over ₹1 lakh a month, while care at home with a nurse and expenses for food may only cost half as much. The choice however must not be made on cost economics - homecare without reliable caretaker and nurse plus a family or friend nearby to provide emergency assistance, can be risky. The home must also be safe and suitable – wheel-chair use, design to avoid slips and falls, hand-rails must be added to meet the needs of people requiring assistance.

The author is an independent financial consultant

(This is a free article from the BusinessLine premium Portfolio segment. For more such content, please subscribe to The Hindu BusinessLine online.)

Published on June 05, 2021

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