Sharp Increases in Alzheimer’s Cases, Costs on Horizon for California
The number of Californians with Alzheimer's disease will nearly double to 1.1 million by 2030, contributing to a jump in treatment costs from $50.5 billion to $98.8 billion, according to a report the California Alzheimer's Association released yesterday, the San Francisco Chronicle reports (Colliver, San Francisco Chronicle, 2/26).
According to the report, the cost of caring for patients in skilled nursing facilities is expected to rise from $16 billion to an estimated $31 billion by 2030 (Goldeen, Stockton Record, 2/26).
The cost of caring for Alzheimer's patients in nursing homes will increase to $5.2 billion in 2030 from $2.7 billion in 2008, the report projects.
In addition, the value of unpaid care that family members provide is expected to increase from roughly $37.2 billion to $72.7 billion in 2030, according to the report (San Francisco Chronicle, 2/26).
Among minorities, Alzheimer's incidence is expected to double among blacks and triple among Hispanics and Asian-Americans (Stockton Record, 2/26).
Californians ages 55 and older have a one in eight lifetime risk of developing the disease (Robertson, Sacramento Business Journal, 2/25). Alzheimer's is currently the sixth leading cause of death in California (Anderson, Fresno Bee, 2/25).
Implications for Medi-Cal?
The report did not estimate the increased cost to Medi-Cal because of a lack of data, according to Patrick Fox, professor of sociology and health policy at UC-San Francisco and an author of the report.
Medi-Cal is California's Medicaid program.
However, Fox said it is 2.5 times more expensive to care for Medi-Cal beneficiaries over age 65 with Alzheimer's than beneficiaries of the same age who do not have some form of dementia (San Francisco Chronicle, 2/26).
Moreover, the jump in Alzheimer's cases could translate to a similar rise in Medi-Cal costs because the program covers the cost of nursing home care for many people after they have exhausted their personal resources and their families cannot provide constant care (Hines, Riverside Press-Enterprise, 2/25).
Debra Cherry, a clinical psychologist and an editor of the report, said, "We need to do some planning to better meet these needs, or we will devastate our Medi-Cal program" (Peyton Dahlberg, Sacramento Bee, 2/26).
The report called on policymakers to:
- Increase funding for Alzheimer's research;
- Expand geriatrics training for health care providers;
- Offer financial incentives and support services for caregivers;
- Encourage employers to be flexible with caregivers;
- Target outreach for minority communities; and
- Prioritize early screening and treatment of Alzheimer's.
A state advisory committee on Alzheimer's will use the report to develop a plan aimed at increasing research, care and other services over the next decade.
Researchers at UCSF's Institute of Health and Aging produced the report (DarcÃ©, San Diego Union-Tribune, 2/26).
The Rosalinde and Arthur Gilbert Foundation funded the report with support from the Alzheimer's Disease Program at the California Department of Public Health (San Francisco Chronicle, 2/26).
The report pulls information from the California Department of Finance, the California Department of Public Health, the U.S. Census Bureau and the U.S. Department of Labor (Riverside Press Enterprise, 2/25).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.