Home health care provides intermittent skilled nursing and therapeutic and rehabilitative care in a senior’s residence. Individuals sometimes refer to this type of care as senior home health care or elderly home health care. Often, doctors order tailored services as part of a senior’s treatment plan following an illness, injury or surgery, allowing them to recover at home and avoid temporarily going into a nursing home. Once a recipient’s functioning returns, services generally end.

Public funding, such as Medicaid and Medicare, only covers medically necessary home health services. However, some older adults continue receiving care on a private-pay basis. Home health care differs from in-home care; while both include personal care, the former provides clinical services, while the latter includes companionship and domestic help. This guide provides further information about home health care, including services, costs and how to find local agencies.   

Key Takeaways

  • Typical Home Health Care Services: Information about common services delivered by multidisciplinary home health care teams and overviews of each profession involved in caring for seniors at home.
  • Service Plans: Guidance on how medical professionals create personalized care plans to ensure services meet each recipient’s health care needs.
  • Home Health Care Costs: Details on the national median monthly home health care cost and who usually pays for services.
  • Paying for Care: Overview of payment methods, what services benefits typically cover and relevant information about public assistance programs.

What Types of Care and Services Do Home Health Agencies Provide?

Home health agencies must be certified or licensed in compliance with state and local standards. They must also meet specified standards set by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) to receive Medicaid or Medicare payments. Therefore, physicians and nurses oversee all provided services. Care teams commonly include:

Certified Nursing Aides

Also known as CNAs, home health aides or certified nursing assistants

  • Assist with personal care and perform lower-level medical care
  • Have formal training and certification
  • May have training to operate medical equipment

For more insights, see our full article, What Do Certified Nursing Aides Do?

Physical and Occupational Therapists

Sometimes known as PTs and OTs

  • Have professional education and training
  • Help seniors regain functioning and reduce pain
  • Provide specialized exercises
  • Use various techniques to aid recovery, including massage, heat and water
  • Physical therapy aids overall mobility
  • Occupational therapy helps individuals perform everyday activities

For further details, see our full article on what physical and occupational therapists do.

Speech Therapists

Also called speech-language pathologists or SLPs

  • Have professional education and training
  • Help seniors improve speech, language, swallowing and understanding
  • Provide specialized exercises
  • May include strengthening activities for lip and tongue muscles

Learn more in our article about what speech therapists do.


Also called registered nurses (RNs), licensed practical nurses (LPNs), licensed vocational nurses (LVNs) or advanced practical nurses (APNs)

  • Have professional education, training and licensing
  • Provide skilled nursing care
  • Administer medications
  • Take vital signs
  • Draw blood
  • Monitor progress

For more information, read our article on what visiting nurses do.

Home health care agencies assess an individual’s specific needs and create a personalized health care plan, sometimes called a plan of care. Doctors review and sign off on care plans, which include:

  • Details of services
  • Which professionals will deliver services
  • Service frequency
  • Expected service duration
Note: Doctors can take time to approve health care plans. In the meantime, most experienced nurses and therapists begin with what they think an individual needs unless they see an area of concern. If you have questions, don’t hesitate to ask the home care agency and doctor.

For a more detailed guide, see our article on how to create a home health care plan.

How Much Does Home Health Care Cost?

Most home health care agencies don’t provide fee-for-service; Medicare or other insurance plans typically reimburse providers. When agencies offer private-pay services, fees depend on the services required and the type of staff that delivers them. Nurses and therapists cost more; home health aides charge less. According to Genworth’s Cost of Care Survey 2023, the nationwide median hourly rate stands at $33. However, costs vary significantly across the country.  

Paying for Home Health Care

These benefits typically pay for physician-ordered home health care services. 


Medicare / Medicare Advantage


Medicaid / HCBS Waivers


Veterans Benefits


Amount of home health care coverage

Pays the full cost of home health care for qualifying seniors.

May cover some home health care costs for qualifying individuals.

Might also cover some services after Medicare coverage stops.

VA health care includes full home health care.



Key considerations

  • A doctor must prescribe services.
  • Different parts of Medicare cover various services.
  • Coverage only lasts while a doctor and home health care agency certify that an individual needs such care.
  • A doctor must prescribe services.
  • Providers must be Medicaid-certified.
  • Functional and financial eligibility criteria.  


Only available to qualifying veterans.

Useful resources

Contact your local State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP) for free, impartial and expert advice about Medicare.

Contact your state Medicaid agency or local Area Agency on Aging for more information about home health care coverage.

For help enrolling in VA benefits, speak to a VA advisor in person or call (877) 222-8387.

Further information

For a more detailed guide, see our full article on Medicare benefits.

Learn more in our detailed beginner’s guide to Medicaid.


Find further information in our guide to veterans benefits.


Other Payment Options for Home Health Care

Private Insurance

Private health insurance usually provides short-term in-home nursing care coverage, subject to possible co-payments.

Long-term care insurance often pays for home health care, although limitations typically apply.

Privately Funded Options

For seniors who want to continue privately funded home health care, payment options include:

Other care services, such as nonmedical in-home care, might be more cost-effective. Contact your local Agency on Aging to learn what low-cost or volunteer-based services exist in your community.

How Do I Find the Right Home Healthcare Agency?

Your loved one’s treating physician or hospital refers them to a certified home health care agency. However, these steps will help you source a provider independently:

  • Enter your zip code, city or state in our Home Health Agency Directory above.
  • Compare reviews and ratings.
  • Ask friends and family for recommendations.
  • Discuss your requirements with short-listed agencies.
  • Ask about staff certifications and background checks.

Using these strategies, you can confidently identify a home health care provider that meets your specific needs and ensures quality, trustworthy care for your loved one.