The Elderly with Disabilities: At Risk for High Health Care Costs

02/01/1994

According to the 1987 National Medical Expenditure Survey, elderly persons with severe disabilities (defined as needing assistance with one or more activities of daily living) had out-of-pocket health care expenses nearly four times greater than persons without disabilities. Approximately 9% of the elderly population was categorized as having a severe disability. Much of the difference in out-of-pocket expenditures is due to greater home health spending among those without disabilities, who also have far greater hospital and physician expenses. Older people with disabilities also spend a greater proportion of family income on health care than do older people with disabilities — 12% versus 3%. However, these are substantial variation in expenditures among persons with substantial disability. For instance, over 70% of the severely disabled elderly do not have any out-of-pocket expenditures for home health care. Elderly persons with severe disabilities who were enrolled in Medicaid for only part of the year had highest out-of-pocket expenditures (nearly 20% of family income). (ASPE Research Notes, Volume 8) [5 PDF pages]

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