The role of informal caregivers is becoming increasingly important as the U.S. population continues to age and cost-containment strategies promote shorter hospital stays. There are currently 16 million working-age adults caring for a sick or disabled family member, according to data from the Commonwealth Fund Biennial Health Insurance Survey. Caregivers are less likely to be working, more likely to miss days of work when they are employed, and more likely to lack health insurance coverage. This may leave them financially vulnerable and unable to obtain needed health care. Indeed, one-half of caregivers reported not getting care because of cost issues, and three of five caregivers experienced problems with medical bills. Polices to expand Medicaid and Medicare would improve caregivers' ability to access health care for themselves and their families, as well as help eliminate the financial strain of going without health insurance.
A Look at Working-Age Caregivers' Roles, Health Concerns, and Need for Support
A. Ho, S. R. Collins, K. Davis, and M. M. Doty, A Look at Working-Age Caregivers' Roles, Health Concerns, and Need for Support, The Commonwealth Fund, August 2005.