LASA had the opportunity in early June to seek clarification from the Department of Health on a number of home care Member queries concerning price publishing commencing 1 July 2019. The following information is a reflection of the advice provided.

Publishing fortnightly pricing amounts

Within My Aged Care’s new pricing schedule there is a legislative requirement commencing 1 July 2019 that home care providers publish pricing information as fortnightly dollar amounts. The rationale for publishing of home care package pricing information as a fortnightly dollar amount is based on consumer feedback indicating that it aligns with other aged care payments, such as their fortnightly pension, and offers a familiar time period to view and make sense of home care package price publishing arrangements.

Concurrently, the User Rights Principles 2014, outlines a legislative requirement to provide home care package care recipients with a monthly statement of available funds and expenditure and supports the care-recipient to understand this information consistent with the Charter of Aged Care Rights.

There is flexibility, however, as to how home care package providers present pricing information within these monthly home care package statements with account for ensuring:

  1. Care recipients can understand the information provided in these statements, and
  2. That the price published in My Aged Care and agreed to with care recipients is the price that is charged to them in management of their home care package.

Publishing common prices and price ranges where brokerage services are used

With My Aged Care’s new pricing schedule there is a legislative requirement commencing 1 July 2019 that home care providers publish the most common prices for each of the listed common services (i.e. personal care, nursing, cleaning and household tasks, light gardening and in-home respite). In this respect a common price should be published in My Aged Care for each of these services that will provide a meaningful indication of the most likely price a care recipient will be charged for these services. It should be noted, however, that there is some flexibility for providers to negotiate with care-recipients for variation of a published price where a genuine need is indicated and this variation should be documented in the service agreement.

Providers would do well to monitor ongoing where multiple care recipients are being contracted at a service price that is different from the price that is published. In such circumstances, due diligence should be applied to determine as to whether the most common price that has been published in My Aged Care needs to be reviewed.

Where a home care provider is offering multiple brokerage service options to deliver these common services however, it is acknowledged that it is difficult for the provider to nominate just one common price for publishing that will be charged to care recipients. For such providers, there is the option within My Aged Care’s new pricing schedule to list a price range that reflects the multiple and varied price points of their preferred contract brokerage services. Where a provider has a regular business relationship with a brokerage service and expects multiple care recipients may use that brokerage service then these brokerage service prices should be reflected in the published price range. If however, a care recipient requests a brokerage service be contracted that is unlikely to be offered as a regular service option to multiple care recipients, there is no expectation that the prices of this client requested brokerage service arrangement be accounted for in a published price range.

Reflecting brokerage service options within a provider’s full price list

Where a home care provider is offering multiple brokerage service options, these brokerage service options need to be included within the provider’s full price list. However, there is no prescriptive approach as to how the full range of prices are to be published within a provider’s full price list other than the full price list providing a comprehensive account of all the care and services that a provider offers and their associated prices.

The Department of Health representative acknowledged that a sensible approach to listing care and services on a full price list is preferred. For example, if a provider makes use of multiple physiotherapists across multiple geographic regions, it may be more sensible to list a single line item for physiotherapy within the full price list with a definition of the service and a price range to account for all the physiotherapists the published price range would be ascribed to. Again the focus of a full price list should be to provide potential care recipients with clarity between what is published and what the care recipient is to be contracted.