Changing Aging Blog

Rand Corporation Study Illustrates Need For New U.S. Approaches on Paying for Long-Term Services and Supports
Date: Oct 29th, 2014 10:14am


Eric Schubert

Anyone who has provided care for a loved one at home knows how exhausting it can be.  Turns out not only is it exhausting, but it has a huge price tag and most people are caregiving for senior relative and friends while holding down another fulltime job.  Talk about huge opportunity costs.

The cost applied for informal caregiving of elderly people by friends and relatives in the United States comes to $522 billion a year, according to a new RAND Corporation study.  Three out of five caregivers also are in the labor force. Working-age people under the age of 65 provide 22 billion of those 30 billion caregiving hours, and they often lose income due to reduced work hours. Because their hourly wages are higher than those over 65, they account for the largest portion of the informal costs of caregiving, or $412 billion a year — about midway between the replacement cost of paid unskilled caregiving ($221 billion) and paid skilled caregiving ($642 billion).

Replacing that care with unskilled paid care at minimum wage would cost $221 billion, while replacing it with skilled nursing care would cost $642 billion annually.  Imagine if people could get the right services at the right time in the right place and have dollars to pay for it.  America's nonprofit senior services organizations and their partners on the The LeadingAge Financing Reform Task Force see a very different future.  They've created Pathways, a  report that outlines ways we could address this national and state problem differently and better instead of exhausting people, depleting their income and moving many Americans to poverty because of the inefficient way America pays for long-term services and supports.  We need a new path as outlined by the Pathways Task Force.


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