Seventy-five percent of people caring for Medicare beneficiaries with complex health care needs have an annual income of less than $25,000, yet a majority provide financial support to their loved one, according to a new survey by Care Improvement Plus and the National Family Caregivers Association. Financial worries, diabetes care and care coordination are among the greatest challenges facing “higher-burden” caregivers – those responsible for a wider range of activities associated with their loved ones care over a prolonged period of time.
The survey, “A Picture of Higher-Burden Caregiving”, focuses on people caring for Medicare beneficiaries with complex health care needs, and underscores the growing challenges caregivers face as the nation’s Medicare population grows.
300 caregivers of individuals enrolled in Care Improvement Plus’ Medicare Advantage Special Needs Plan across five states (Arkansas, Georgia, Missouri, South Carolina and Texas) participated in the survey. The survey results revealed that individuals caring for Medicare beneficiaries with complex health care needs fall under this emerging category of higher-burden caregivers:
“This survey affirms that people who are caring for chronically ill and underserved Medicare beneficiaries are taking on many aspects of their loved one’s care and often face significant challenges,” said Rhonda Randall, D.O., chief medical officer, UnitedHealthcare Medicare & Retirement. “With baby boomers aging into Medicare, the number of beneficiaries with chronic conditions is increasing rapidly – and with it a growing demand for solutions that meet the needs of their family caregivers.”
Financial Concerns Weigh Heavily among Higher-Burdened Caregivers
Among people caring for Medicare beneficiaries with complex health care needs, financial issues are highly rated concerns. Specific financial needs and challenges faced by caregivers responding to the survey include:
Select Chronic Conditions Drive Higher Need for Support
The majority of caregivers surveyed (70 percent) provide care for Medicare beneficiaries with diabetes. Among the survey population, diabetes, cardiovascular diseases and mental illnesses drive a higher need for caregiver involvement compared with other chronic conditions such as arthritis and physical disabilities. In addition, chronic conditions and concern over personal health are prevalent among survey respondents. Specific findings include:
Caregivers Face Significant Responsibilities in Coordinating Care
The role of care coordinator is a significant burden, according to the survey results. Respondents are conducting both medical and non-medical support activities, including transportation, medication management, nutritional support, physical support and managing finances. Specifically, the survey revealed that:
“As the chronically ill Medicare population continues to grow at a rapid pace, we need to identify ways to support the family caregivers that are critical to maintaining their loved ones’ health,” said John Schall, CEO, National Family Caregivers Association. “This survey helps spotlight the issues caregivers are facing and the importance of considering the unique demands associated with higher-needs caregiving.”
This survey was conducted via telephone interviews by DSS Research on behalf of Care Improvement Plus and the National Family Caregivers Association among 300 caregivers of Care Improvement Plus Medicare Advantage Special Needs Plans enrollees across five states: Arkansas, Georgia, Missouri, South Carolina and Texas. Interviews were completed between Aug. 29 and Sept. 28, 2012. This survey employed a stratified random sampling method and with a sampling error of plus or minus 5.7 percentage points with a 95 percent confidence interval.
About Care Improvement Plus
Care Improvement Plus is a leading provider of Medicare Advantage plans uniquely designed for beneficiaries with chronic conditions including diabetes, heart failure and chronic lung disorders, as well as those with both Medicare and full Medicaid. A UnitedHealthcare® Medicare Solution, Care Improvement Plus is committed to delivering high quality benefits and specialized services.
About the National Family Caregivers Association
The National Family Caregivers Association educates, supports, empowers and speaks up for the more than 65 million Americans who care for loved ones with a chronic illness or disability or the frailties of old age. NFCA reaches across the boundaries of diagnoses, relationships and life stages to help transform family caregivers' lives by removing barriers to health and well-being.