Most Seniors Must Tap Personal Sources to Afford Home Care

The majority of caregiving services for older disabled Americans are paid for by personal sources alone, a new study finds.

While family caregivers are responsible for the majority of home care that older people receive, home care services provided by paid caregivers nonetheless represent a significant source of help, according to research published in BMC Health Services Research 2015. 

And about six in 10 caregivers (63%) providing home care services are paid by personal sources alone, according to BMC research.

By contrast, 28% of caregivers receive payment from publicly funded programs alone, and 9% from a combination of personal and public program sources, data show.

The survey sample consists of 11,725 people during the years of 1989, 1994, 1999, and 2004, with data provided by the National Long-Term Care Survey.  Survey respondents were chronically disabled. 

Disabled older people who are ineligible to receive home care services from public program sources or otherwise have insufficient access may use services financed by various personal sources such as out-of-pocket payment, private insurance, and family members, BMC finds.

Perhaps not surprisingly, those who have higher incomes receive more home care time—which is also usually paid out-of-pocket. Older people with family incomes over $75,000 per year receive 8.5 more hours of home care overall than those in the lowest income category (less than $15,000 dollars), data show.

“While the funding mix for home care services is strongly related to older people’s economic resources, in all income groups at least 65% of services are provided by caregivers paid in whole or in part from personal sources,” the report says. “In fact, almost all (97%) home care received by those with family incomes over $75,000 per year are financed by personal sources alone.”

Access the report here.

Written by Cassandra Dowell