Whether to hire an agency or an individual to care for your loved one


This is a continuation of the Sept 12th text interview with home healthcare  expert Steve Olian discussing the issues around hiring someone to care for your loved one at home. We will now discuss the decision of whether to hire an agency or an individual.

LB: Although you’re paying more for the agency, you have the convenience that they’re going to send people. Otherwise, you have to go looking for them yourself. But what about things like bonding and workers’ comp., and meeting payroll regulations?  If you hire an individual, do you still have to be concerned with these things?

SO: You absolutely do, because you have legal requirements for payroll costs and social security.

LB: So, even as an individual we are still responsible for these things, the same things that the agency is responsible for?

SO: That’s correct. However, if you have a homeowners policy, that covers people working in your home (workers’ comp.) but there’s no profit portion as there would be in an agency. So you’ll generally find that you’ll be spending less by hiring individuals. The people who are working at the agencies typically make less at the agency than they do where when instead of where they’re working directly for a family.

 LB: In terms of references, price, and availability, I imagine that would be easy information to get from the individual you are considering hiring up front; you just have to ask for their references and ask for their price and availability.  But, what about bonding, workers’ comp., and meeting payroll regulations?  As an individual how do you find out how to handle those things like bonding, workers’ comp., and meeting payroll regulations?

 SO: Generally the agent who handles your homeowners’ insurance will be the one to contact, and they will have the information you’ll need to do that.  For the most part it’s a small, additional increase on your policy.  It can easily be handled, but they do have to be notified.  This usually involves adding a name on your auto policy in case they have to drive the patient someplace, but a good agent will clarify all of that for you, and that is perhaps the easiest part.  Some of it is just going to cost you a little bit more money.

 LB: So if you’re a homeowner, you’d contact your homeowners’ insurance agent, and they would add this to your policy, and they would take care of the bonding, the workers’ comp., and meeting the payroll regulations.  But, what about for people who are not homeowners?

 SO: I really don’t know the answer to that, how they would handle that.  If they’re renting, it is likely that they have renters’ insurance, and that would have to be covered through that agent.  Typically, it’s an add-on to whatever policy you have that covers these things.  Either your renter’s policy or your auto policy.

 Sept 26th post will be the 3rd installment of this interview; we’ll discuss how to check references.