Glossary



Handicapped

As defined by Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, any person who has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activity, has a record of such impairment, or is regarded as having such an impairment.

HCFA

See Health Care Financing Administration or CMS

HCPCS Codes (CMS common procedure coding system)

A coding system used by providers to report supplies, nonphysician medical services, DME, and other items to Medicare and other third-party payers. The codes are designated as level II national codes.

Health

The state of complete physical, mental and social well being — not merely the absence of disease or infirmity. It is recognized, however, that health has many dimensions (anatomical, physiological, and mental) and is largely culturally defined. The relative importance of various disabilities will differ depending upon the cultural milieu and the role of the affected individual in that culture. Most attempts at measurement have been assessed in terms or morbidity and mortality.

Health and Human Services, Department of (HHS)

An executive department of the federal government that is responsible for the oversight of the Medicaid and Medicare programs, the biggest and second-biggest payer of long-term care in the United States.

Health Care Financing Administration (HCFA)

Health Care Financing Administration (HCFA) – see Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS)

Health information management (HIM)

Issues concerning health-related information and the management of systems that collect, store, process, analyze and distribute information related to healthcare services. A health information administrator manages resources and technologies that support clinical, administrative and financial information systems.

Health insurance

Financial protection against the medical care costs arising from disease or accidental bodily injury. Such insurance usually covers all or part of the medical costs of treating the disease or injury. Insurance may be obtained on either an individual or a group basis.

Health maintenance organization (HMO)

For a prepaid fee, this type of organization provides a comprehensive range of health maintenance and treatment services (including hospitalization, preventive care, diagnosis and nursing).

Healthcare directive

A legal document that allows someone to appoint another individual (or “agent”) to make healthcare decisions, should the person become unable to communicate or make decisions on his or her own.

Healthcare power of attorney

The appointment of a healthcare agent to make decisions when an individual becomes unable to make or communicate decisions.

HIPAA

Federal legislation passed in 1996 that sets standards for access, portability and renewability that apply to groups and individuals. Protects security and privacy of health data, as well as coverage for workers who lose or change jobs. Requires the establishment of national standards for e-health transactions and national identifiers for providers, health insurance plans and employers.

Home- and community-based service waivers

Section 2176 of the Omnibus Reconciliation Act permits states to offer, under a waiver, a wide array of home and community-based services that an individual might need to avert institutionalization. Regulations to implement the act list the following services as community- and home-based services which may be offered under the waiver program: case management, homemaker, home health aide, personal care, adult day health care, habilitation, respite care and other services.

Home equity

The value of a home, minus any money owed on it.

Home equity conversion

Turning home equity into cash without having to leave your home or make regular loan repayments.

Home Equity Conversion Mortgage (HECM)

The only reverse mortgage program insured by the Federal Housing Administration, a federal government agency.

Home health agency

A company that delivers medical services in a home setting, as opposed to institutional care in a nursing home. Services could be provided by a nurse, therapist, social worker, home health aide or other worker.

Home health aide

The equivalent of a certified nursing aid in a nursing facility, this is a person who provides personal care such as bathing, dressing and grooming in a home setting. Might also perform light housekeeping services.

Home health care

Includes a wide range of health-related services such as assistance with medications, wound care, intravenous (IV) therapy, and help with basic needs such as bathing, dressing, mobility, etc., which are delivered at a person's home. Home care includes assistance with: ambulation and exercise; self-administered medications; reporting changes in conditions and needs; completing appropriate records; personal care; homemaker services or home health aide services.

Home medical equipment (HME)

Also called “durable medical equipment.” Equipment such as hospital beds, wheelchairs, and prosthetics used at home. May be covered by Medicaid and, in part, by Medicare or private insurance.

Homebound

One of the requirements to qualify for Medicare home health care. Means that someone is generally unable to leave the house, and if they do leave home, it is only for a short time (such as for a medical appointment) and requires considerable effort.

Homemaker services

In-home help with things such as meal preparation, shopping, light housekeeping, money management, personal hygiene or laundry.

Hospice

Hospice/palliative care is provided to enhance the life of a dying person. Often provided in the home by health professionals, there are many nursing facilities and acute-care settings that also offer hospice services. Hospice care, typically offered in the last six months of life, emphasizes comfort measures and counseling to provide spiritual and physical support to the dying patient and his or her family. Includes home health services, volunteer support, grief counseling and pain management.

Hospital

An institution whose primary function is to provide inpatient diagnostic and therapeutic services for a variety of medical conditions, both surgical and nonsurgical.

Hospital insurance (Medicare Part A)

Hospital insurance that helps pay for inpatient hospital care, limited skilled nursing care, hospice care and some home healthcare. Most people get Medicare Part A automatically when they turn 65.

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In Focus

Dec. 13

A giving season

Nationwide

Senior living communities throughout the country are proving that the end-of-year holidays are a time of giving.