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Out-Of-Pocket Costs Of Caring For Parent, Spouse $5,500

Armen Hareyan's picture

U.S. adults who care for elderly peopleon average have annual out-of-pocket costs of $5,531, which accounts for about10% of their salaries, according to a study released on Monday, the New York Times reports. The study -- conducted bythe National Alliance for Caregiving, a research and policy group, and Evercare, a division of UnitedHealth Group thatcoordinates long-term care for 150,000 members -- included a telephone surveyof 1,000 adults who cared for someone older than age 50. According to thestudy, only two respondents said that they did not have out-of-pocket costs. Thestudy 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

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  • 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%).

Inaddition, the study included separate diary reports from 41 adults who caredfor elderly people and received $100 to track their out-of-pocket costs duringone month. The study found that the diarists on average had annualout-of-pocket costs of $12,348. The study did not explain the differencebetween the annual out-of-pocket costs of the diarists and those of the surveyrespondents. The study recommended increased government assistance for adultswho care for elderly parents or spouses through tax deductions, tax credits orother stipends.

NAC President Gail Gibson Hunt said, "Typically, when people talk aboutservices for caregivers, they meanrespite care, support groups and things like that," adding, "Theydon't think of the financial side being tied into the burden. If you'respending 10% of your income, that's part of what's weighing on you, and policymakershaven't paid enough attention to that" (Gross, New York Times,11/19).

Reprintedwith permission from kaisernetwork.org. You can view the entire Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report, search the archives, and sign upfor email delivery at kaisernetwork.org/email . The Kaiser Daily Health PolicyReport is published for kaisernetwork.org, a free service of The Henry J.Kaiser Family Foundation.