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$10 billion: value of long-term care given to Ohio’s disabled senior citizens

Ohio family members are providing about $5 billion worth of uncompensated care to disabled older family members, according to a report by researchers at Miami’s Scripps Gerontology Center.

That’s an amount equal to the paid long-term care given to the state’s disabled residents aged 65 and over. In reviewing public and private expenditures for long-term care in Ohio in 1999, Shahla Mehdizadeh and Latona Murdoch of Scripps found one-third of severely disabled older Ohioans and 97.5 percent of seniors with moderate disabilities received informal, unpaid long-term care.

Overall, public funds (mostly Medicaid) paid for 29 percent of long-term care and private sources (personal payments, insurance, etc.) covered 21 percent.

Mehdizadeh, director of research for the Ohio Long-term Care Research Project (housed at Scripps), and Murdoch, research associate, determined the value of uncompensated care by calculating the number of persons with regular caregivers, reviewing average hours of care received per person per day based on level of disability, and using the relatively low Medicaid reimbursement rate of $13.50/hour for home-based care.

"This is a conservative estimate," explains Murdoch. "We did not count informal care from other than the primary caregiver, nor did we count hours of informal care provided to relatives living in long-term care institutions." Potential lost income of the caregiver and additional expenses such as special foods or home modifications were not included in the estimate, either.

With the disabled older population estimated to grow from 426,000 in 1999 to 1.1 million in 2050, and with family sizes shrinking, the researchers say the state will need to step-up its efforts in long-term care education and availability.

"Ohio needs to educate residents about care management, costs, and the possible need for long-term care insurance as well as expand consumer choice and community-based long-term care options," says Mehdizadeh.

The study, and others, are available at www.muohio.edu/scripps. The study was funded by a grant from the Ohio General Assembly through Ohio Board of Regents to the Ohio Long-Term Care Research Project.

Date Published: 07/10/2003
Volume: 23   Number: 1

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