Money Saving Tips for Home Health Professionals
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One of the reasons I started this whole lifestyle about minimalism was to pay down student loan debt. Thus, as much as I love being an Occupational Therapist, money, when choosing jobs is always a big factor when deciding which job to take.The great thing about home health, it’s one of the most lucrative settings. However, if your not careful you could easily spend more money during your day to day work routine than you would in an inpatient setting. This post provides tips to save money for home health professionals.
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Negotiate Mileage Reimbursement
Mileage reimbursement is a really great way to make up for the wear and tear on your car that this job entails. Mileage reimbursements typically range from 35-55 cents per mile. Companies are not obligated to pay you this. However, this makes employment more competitive and at this stage in the game, I wouldn’t take a job without it. One nice thing about this mileage reimbursement is it’s tax-free!
Since home health requires driving a decent amount of miles a day, I use this money to fund a sinking car maintenance fund. If you drive a lot daily, you will need to fill up gas more, you will need to change your oil more frequently, replace your tires more frequently, and just have a greater risk in general of some damage happening to your car. I usually keep this fund around $300 and then add to it if I need to use some of it.
Set a radius limit
Make sure to put in your home health contract a set radius you will drive from the office or your home.’I prefer 30 miles, but whatever you are comfortable with will work. This is a really good clause to have in a contract because you won’t be forced to drive hours away to help out. Having this clause allows you to be in more control, and if you want to drive further out of your radius to make some extra money you can agree to it, but not be forced.
Despite mileage reimbursement, it still is the most cost-effective for you to be smart about the miles you are putting on your car. A great way to tackle this is to methodically schedule your patients. Now sometimes things happen and it just can’t work out the way you would like, but typically you can.
I divide my days by mornings and afternoons, ie Monday and Wednesday mornings I stay in southwest part of the town, Monday and Wednesday afternoons I stay in the south-east part of town. In the past I would ask people when they would like for me to come to their house, ie leaving my schedule up to them. I definitely do NOT recommend this. Spoiler alert: everyone wants to be seen at 1 pm. I now say my next visit will be (enter date and time).Believe me, if they have a problem, they will tell you about it. You will have a much better time of scheduling the time you want if you state and don’t ask.
Now if someone absolutely hates being seen in the morning then I will try and be flexible. I also explain to people how I see x amount of people a day and if I see them at a different time it will add 30-45 minutes to my day. Most people are understanding, giving a reason why you have little wiggle room for scheduling makes people more agreeable to your preferred schedule.
Looking for additional resources as a healthcare professional, check out my travel therapy resources page!
Don’t overpay for lunch
When I first started working home health, I ate at Panera Bread every day. I figured this was the most reasonable thing to do since I wouldn’t have access to a fridge/microwave every day. Truth is, as delicious as Panera Bread is, a daily lunch there could run you about $10 a day. As I became more financially savvy I started to realize there were other ways to eat lunch as a road warrior.
Packing a lunch is a great way to save money. With an insulated lunchbox and an icebox, there is no reason why you can’t eat a cold lunch during a break. This could be anything like a salad or sandwich with fresh fruit etc. This will cost you the fraction of eating out. For a hot lunch, I have found that a lot of grocery stores have eating areas with a microwave! I can usually heat up my lunch there if I need to, especially during winter months. Sometimes if I don’t prepare ahead I will grab something from the prepared food sections or a cheap frozen burrito.
The best part about working as a home health therapist or nurse is the flexibility in schedule. The difficulty can be having a definite work/life balance. One way to deal with this is bringing as little work home with you as possible.
Phone calls in the driveway: Any phone call/or text you need to make for the patient make before you pull out of the driveway. This can be getting verbal orders from the doctor, informing the team of some pertinent information, etc.
Document in the home: If a patient absolutely is annoyed by this I won’t do it. However, I make an effort to explain that I only get paid for this time in the visit so if I don’t do any documenting in people’s homes, I will spend hours each day at home finishing my work. Again, some people won’t care but most understand. I either spend an extra 5-10 minutes finishing my documentation just chatting after my session is complete or before I need to pull off to the next patient in my car.
Document in a library: No matter how efficient you are a documenting there will be occasional days where you need an hour or two at the end of the day to finish your documentation. I always prefer not to take this home with me, because when I am home I just like to be home. Some people will go to a coffee shop and spend a few dollars on an expensive coffee that you don’t need. Libraries are a great FREE place to get work done. Most libraries have study rooms you can reserve where there is no risk of getting your sensitive information peeked at, which can be difficult to find in a coffee shop.
In short, if you are like me and have specific financial goals home health is a great way for health practitioners to increase pay. As mentioned before it’s always good to treat people in their home environment. With reimbursement for inpatient services becoming less and less, home health is expected to boom in the next few years.
Do you work in home health, how do you maximize your pay?