We Americans may be getting an average of more than $1,000 in caregiving value per year from informal caregivers who, in many cases, may be on the verge of needing care themselves.
The Evercare unit of UnitedHealth Group (NYSE:UNH) found in 2009 that informal caregivers are providing about $375 billion in long-term care (LTC) per year.
That care is “free” for the United States, but, of course, comes out of the hide of the caregivers.
Now Care Improvement Plus, a Medicare plan affiliate of Unitedhealth, and the National Family Caregivers Association have published new survey data on the chunks of caregiver hide on which we’ve been feasting.
The survey sponsors polled 300 caregivers who are caring for adults enrolled in a Care Improvement Plus Medicare Advantage Special Needs Plan program that serves people in Arkansas, Georgia, Missouri, South Carolina and Texas.
In other words: The people the caregivers care for are pretty sick, even by Medicare standards.
The survey sponsors found that 75 percent of the caregivers polled have annual incomes under $25,000; that 66 percent of the caregivers have been caring for their loved ones with special needs for five years or more; that these caregivers have an average of 1.8 chronic conditions each; and that 77 percent of the caregivers are struggling to make their own ends meet.
I think these statistics illustrate why, let’s face it, the top executives at publicly traded health insurers aren’t saying much about the commercial health insurance market these days, or much at all, except, maybe, “Adios!”, about the commercial long-term care insurance (LTCI) market, during their quarterly earnings calls.