Annual Out-of-Pocket Costs of Caring for Elderly Parent, Spouse About $5,500, Survey Finds
U.S. adults who care for elderly people on average have annual out-of-pocket costs of $5,531, which accounts for about 10% of their salaries, according to a study released on Monday, the New York Times reports. The study -- conducted by the National Alliance for Caregiving, a research and policy group, and Evercare, a division of UnitedHealth Group that coordinates long-term care for 150,000 members -- included a telephone survey of 1,000 adults who cared for someone older than age 50. According to the study, only two respondents said that they did not have out-of-pocket costs. The study also found that:
- 37% of respondents had to quit their jobs or reduce their working hours to care for elderly family members or friends;
- The most common out-of-pocket costs cited by respondents included household goods and foods (42%), followed by transportation (39%), medical copayments and prescription drugs (31%), clothing (21%), and home repair and maintenance (13%); and
- The most common strategies used to cover out-of-pocket costs included reductions in spending on leisure activities (49%), reductions in spending on vacations (47%), delays of major purchases or home improvements (34%), use of personal savings (34%), limits on personal savings (27%) and delays of personal health care (23%).
In addition, the study included separate diary reports from 41 adults who cared for elderly people and received $100 to track their out-of-pocket costs during one month. The study found that the diarists on average had annual out-of-pocket costs of $12,348. The study did not explain the difference between the annual out-of-pocket costs of the diarists and those of the survey respondents. The study recommended increased government assistance for adults who care for elderly parents or spouses through tax deductions, tax credits or other stipends.
NAC President Gail Gibson Hunt said, "Typically, when people talk about services for caregivers, they mean respite care, support groups and things like that," adding, "They don't think of the financial side being tied into the burden. If you're spending 10% of your income, that's part of what's weighing on you, and policymakers haven't paid enough attention to that" (Gross, New York Times, 11/19). This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.