If you receive this letter from the government, do not worry. Improved payment arrangements for home care.

Recently, many customers told us that they had received a letter from the Australian Department of Health. The letter mentioned the improved payment arrangement (IPA) of Home Care Package (HCP), so they were confused and asked us, “The government is contacting us, Is there a problem with my HCP?” We understand why HCP recipients, may have same questions.

We don’t want you to worry though, this letter is the government once again informing the elderly that the payment system of the HCP program has been updated on September 1 2021. Under the new payment arrangements, the HCP is more transparent, and the rights of the elderly are fully protected.

 

The main content:

From 1 September 2021, The Government will only pay your provider for the services they have delivered to you, after they were delivered. These changes were introduced through the Improved Payment Arrangements (IPA) for the Home Care Package Program allowing for greater transparency of unspent funds.

The home care expenses in your Care Agreement remain unchanged.

In short, the subsidy is not directly paid to providers, but held in your Services Australia account, which is managed by the Australian government. How many services you use per month is reported by your provider to the government, the government can then approve to pay these bills. The most important part is that the unspent funds are still accumulated in the elderly’s account for future use.

 

Reasons for IPA

  1. The main reason

At present, $1.4 billion HCP funds has been held by providers, and that number is still increasing. Since the amount of unspent funds is so large, the reforms were created to ensure the financial safety of the HCP program.

Therefore, when choosing a HCP provider, the priority is to check the enterprise scale and number of members. This is to guarantee the safety of your HCP. Of course, the government also considers that the elderly shall not consider too much when choosing providers, so the government adopts such an arrangement to ensure the financial safety of your HCP.

  1. Over charge and hidden fees from some providers.

For IPA, all invoices need to be reimbursed by the government. Arbitrary reimbursement, arbitrary charges, or unreasonable payment can be stopped. Happy Living honestly inform the elderly that there are hundreds of different charging items in the industry, which make it very hard to avoid. Therefore, we always hope to influence the entire industry through our practical actions. We have always been adopting a simple method of charging without any hidden costs.

  1. Changes to future allowance levels

We know that the government has always wanted to streamline the Australian allowance system. At present, we have a wide range of allowance plans. We have introduced different allowances in previous articles.

The government aims to integrate all allowance plans. Soon, the HCP may no longer be 4 levels, there might even be 8 levels; the subsidy may no longer be $9000-$50,000, they may be as high as $200,000 per year. Such reforms require the escort of a financial policy to be completed with more deposits.

  1. The Australian Government recently announced 80000 more Home Care Packages will be released. This reform of HCP payment also provides financial support for faster distribution of subsidies.

 

Since the IPA started on September 1 and it has only been implemented for 3 months, we believe that many elderly people still have questions:

 

Q 1: Elderly people still have unspent allowances. Where does the money go?

A: Unspent fund will not be lost.

From September 1, providers can choose to have the Australian government take over, and all unspent funding will be returned to the Australian government.

If the providers choose not to let the government take over their funds, they will continue to keep your unspent funds on your behalf. They can continue to use these funds to pay for your care and services.

 

Q 2: For IPA, when the government take charge, will the HCP provider no longer provide the support as it used to?

A: The IPA will not change the support your provider offers.

Your provider will always need to undertake some care management and allowance management.

For example, annual reviews, service fee payments, management fee payments, guarantees of compliance and quality of services, guidance about how to spend your HCP, and so on.

 

Q3: What does IPA mean for me as a self-managed care recipient?

A: The IPA, will mean no direct changes to the self-management model, but please note:

If you want to reimburse in a timely and fast manner as before IPA, your Provider needs to pay in advance. If it is a small-scale provider and there is not enough cash flow to support the advanced payment, it will cause a payment delay.

 

Q 4: I want to change providers. The previous provider still holds some subsidies, so do I dare to make the move?

A: You can transfer unspent subsidies from provider to provider.

Many elderly worry that if switching their provider, the remaining funding will not be transferred. According to government regulations, you can still change providers and take your unused fund with you, regardless of whether it is before or after the IPA.

However, when switching HCP providers, some providers will charge a withdrawal or exit fee, which has to be written in the service agreement between customer and provider. Please check the previous agreement before switching.

Happy Living does not charge any withdrawal fees, we only require28 days’ notice, which allows the elderly to switch providers freely.

 

Q 5: Will the IPA affect the service quality of Happy Living?

A: Not at all, because the IPA is an adjustment of the government’s industry standardisation.

Happy Living has also been strictly following government regulations including: low rates, high transparency, no interest conflict with service providers, and maintenance of an efficient reimbursement cycle. Therefore, before the IPA took place, Happy Living had already achieved an industry-leading compliance and standard, and there will be no negative impacts.

Happy Living customers will not have any discomfort and service quality will NOT be reduced.

 

Honestly, if there are providers with hidden cost and arbitrary charges, this improvement may be a “great pain” for them.

Finally, we would sincerely hope that other Providers too, can regulate fees, treat the elderly fairly, and allow elderly to retain more funding, in order to use more services to care of their health.