New information published on My Aged Care has revealed huge market variation in the maximum exit fees clients can expect to pay when they leave their home care service.
From 27 February, home care providers have been required by legislation to publish their maximum exit charges on the government’s My Aged Care website, making this information publicly available for the first time.
An analysis by Community Care Review shows that maximum exit fees range from $0 to $4,153, which is equivalent to almost 9 per cent of the annual subsidy for a Level 4 home care package and nearly 10 times the industry average.
The maximum exit fee of $4,153 is from the Royal Freemasons Home Care in Victoria.
The Department of Health told a senate estimates hearing this month the average maximum exit fee was $417.
Other providers with maximum exit fees well above the industry average are St Simeon Community Services in Sydney, which has a published maximum exit amount of $2,015, and IRT and Mercy Community Services, which have each set maximum fees of $1,000.
The Royal Freemasons told CCR its maximum exit fee applied to a Level 4 package and was reflective of the administration costs involved in reconciling and transferring a client’s unspent funds. The provider said its minimum exit fee was $340 and average fee was $1,840.
A spokesperson from Royal Freemasons said the process for transferring unspent funds “takes considerable time” including notifying all services involved in the person’s care and preparing handover documentation if the client is moving into residential care.
“We cannot comment on the fees of other providers, other than to say if what has been put forward is accurate, we are surprised they have calculated the discharge process to be such a low cost,” the spokesperson said.
IRT told CCR that its fees and charges reflected the services provided.
CCR sought comment from St Simeon Community Services about its exit fee and is awaiting a response.
Not expecting ‘huge turnover’
Ian Yates, chief executive of COTA Australia, said exit fees should reflect the actual costs of transferring a client’s unspent funds and he noted a significant number of providers were not charging any exit fees.
CCR’s analysis shows home care providers that have decided not to charge an exit fee include RDNS, KinCare, Benetas, Uniting Home Care, Silver Chain, ECH, Catholic Healthcare, Feros, Ballycara, Centacare and ACH Group.
“This means that they don’t expect huge turnover and are absorbing the administration costs in the normal costs of doing business,” said Mr Yates.
He confirmed that COTA Australia had received a small number of complaints from consumers and families about pressure tactics from providers to sign a home care agreement including an exit fee that a consumer did not agree with, without an opportunity for negotiation.
He said those complaints had been referred to the Aged Care Complaints Commissioner and the experience of consumers would be monitored.
An exit fee must be agreed to with a client as part of their home care agreement and cannot be higher than the amount published on My Aged Care. An exit amount can’t exceed a person’s unspent funds.
Related CCR coverage: Concerning start to ‘enhanced’ consumer information on My Aged Care