Many Caregivers Have Health, Financial Problems, Study Finds
Many adults caring for sick or disabled relatives have their own health problems, lack health insurance and face trouble paying medical bills, according to a study by the Commonwealth Fund released Wednesday, Healthday News/Detroit Free Press reports. The study surveyed 4,052 U.S. adults ages 19 or older between September 2003 and January 2004.
About 16 million U.S. residents care for sick or disabled family members, and approximately nine million of those caregivers have medical problems, according to the study. Three out of five caregivers said they had trouble paying their medical bills.
Sara Collins, co-author of the study, said 45% of caregivers have one or more chronic health problems, compared with 24% of noncaregivers. About two-thirds of caregivers were women (Doheny, Healthday News/Detroit Free Press, 8/25).
The report says Congress could help by expanding government health insurance programs to provide coverage for caregivers, the Washington Post reports. "Allowing Medicare buy-in for caregivers of Medicare beneficiaries or tax credits for caregivers' medical expenses could ease their financial burden," Collins said (Washington Post, 8/25).
According to Steve Hahn, an AARP spokesperson, people ages 50 to 65 have difficulty affording coverage because of their age, and four million adults in that age group lack health insurance (Healthday News/Detroit Free Press, 8/25).
An abstract of the study is available online.