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NCHC Writer
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Health Care and Senior Citizens

Federal spending on Medicare has increased more than 150% during the past decade, to an estimated $190 billion in 1996, up from $74 billion in 1986. (The National Academy of Sciences)

The rate of increase in the cost of health coverage for Medicare-eligible retirees (age 65 and older) has more than doubled since last year, with an average 1997 increase of 7%, up from last year’s 3% increase. The average cost increase for retirees under the age of 65 shows an average increase of only 4% up from 3%. (Towers Perrin)

Policy changes in the 1980s expanded eligibility for home health-care coverage under Medicare. Since 1990, those changes, coupled with an aging population, have spurred a 105% increase in the number of Medicare patients receiving home-care assistance, and a 364% rise in Medicare payments to providers. (Bureau of Labor Statistics, National Association for Home Care)

The number of nursing home residents was up only 4% between 1985 and 1995, despite an 18% increase in the population aged 65 years and over. (Department of Health and Human Services)

Five million of the 38 million Medicare beneficiaries are in HMOs, and enrollment is growing by more than 80,000 a month. It is predicted that more than 15 million Medicare beneficiaries will be in HMOs by 2007. (Congressional Budget Office)

Americans are more worried about paying for long-term care than paying for retirement. 48% of respondents to a national survey said they have done little or no long-term care planning. (National Council on the Aging)

22.4 million families, or one in four households, are providing physical and emotional assistance to relatives or friends who are 50 or older – a threefold increase from 7 million caregivers a decade ago. (1997 National Caregiving Survey)

The average caregiver provides 18 hours a week of assistance. 4.1 million caregivers provide at least 40 hours a week, and another 1.6 million provide 20-40 hours weekly with the length of care lasting more than four years. (1997 National Caregiving Survey)

Nationally, caregivers spend about $2 billion a month out of pocket on groceries, medicine and other aid to their relatives. (1997 National Caregiving Survey)

The national profile of caregivers is as follows: 72% are women; 30% are caring for two or more elderly relatives or friends; 64% are employed full or part time; and 41% are also caring for children under 18. (1997 National Caregiving Survey)

Overall, disabilities among the elderly have declined 14.5% since 1982. Of 26.9 million people 65 and older in 1982, 6.4 million were disabled. Of the 33.7 million elderly in 1994, 7.1 million were disabled. That’s less than the 8.3 million expected after adjusting for population growth. (National Academy of Sciences)

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