It’s no secret that healthcare is expensive. Even with “good” insurance, the costs of healthcare is becoming unreasonable—and rising. The United States spends more money on healthcare than any other country in the world, at nearly 8 percent of the economy going towards healthcare. Experts at the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget (CRFB) estimate that by 2028, costs will rise to $2.9 trillion, or nearly 10 percent of economic resources. So while the it may be frustrating to pay so much for insurance when you have a cold once or twice a year, imagine the toll these expenses take on those that suffer from chronic health issues.
Being homebound could happen due to a variety of factors, but the main ones are age and disability. It’s true that with social security, disability income and medicare coverage that such persons are not without some income or allowance for their medical needs, but the fact remains that these allowances don’t begin to cover the necessities. Approximately 19.4 percent of the adult population in the United States is disabled, according to the National Service and Inclusion Project (NSIP). And while certain programs and provisions exist for this population, many don’t qualify due to their income falling above the prescribed threshold. With the threshold being low, this doesn’t necessarily mean that they have enough money to cover the costs of being disabled, let alone paying for a home health aid.
Since most people don’t want to leave their own home but can’t afford the monthly cost of $4,099 in home care, the responsibility often falls onto the shoulders of family caregivers. These people typically have their own careers and families to support, but have no choice but to also take on the care of their aging relatives. This additional job for family caregivers goes unpaid, meaning that although they may be saving money by not outsourcing the caregiving, caregivers are losing money with the time they spend.
Costs seen and unseen
The truth is that unpaid family caregivers have increased to 41 million in the U.S., with a calculated amount of $470 billion in unpaid assistance, according to a report given by the AARP Public Policy Institute. This calculation is based off of an average American caregiver’s wage of $13.81 per hour. Unpaid caregivers could range from a full-time caregiver to someone who checks in on their aging parent and provides assistance several times a week. This large amount of unpaid assistance doesn’t even begin to cover the opportunity cost that such caregivers also experience.
It’s clear that both the homebound and their caregivers are not receiving the help that they need. Obtaining a motorized wheelchair, affording secondary healthcare services, and being able to cover one’s monthly costs should be human rights. To help bridge the gap between people’s needs and what’s actually being covered by their insurance and entitlements, donate to Live Care Foundation today.
Ms. Harris is a freelance writer and editor who enjoys reading, triathlons, and baking.