LTC for employees' loved ones is costing businesses $74 billion annuallyArticle added by Chris Orestis on June 24, 2014
Chris Orestis

Chris Orestis

Portland, ME

Joined: August 21, 2010

Long-term care is a family affair that is costing U.S. businesses a lot of money. Over 42 million Americans (21 percent of all U.S. households) act as family caregivers every year. Many are employed and must cut back on their hours or leave their jobs entirely. In addition, the vast majority of family caregivers contribute significant hours to the care of loved ones without any compensation. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, businesses lose an average of 2.8 million work days each year due to unplanned absences, costing employers nearly $74 billion. In fact, the impact on employment is so significant that 11 percent of workers will take a leave of absence and 10 percent ultimately will quit their jobs.

The ratio between female and male employees who act as a family caregiver is 60/40, with males missing, on average, 12 work days a year and females missing 33 work days a year. Not only is this a physically and emotionally draining circumstance, but this reality is a significant drain on personal incomes, family budgets and the U.S. economy. The Congressional Commission on Long Term Care cited in their report that the value of uncompensated care provided by family members ($450 billion) is more than double the amount of actual dollars spent on long-term care ($211 billion).

Many families don’t even recognize the fact that they have begun taking on the role of being a caregiver. It can be a slippery slope where either people don’t recognize or are unwilling to admit that their loved one needs care and that they have become the caregiver. As this process overtakes a family, they feel like they are just “helping out” and saving money by doing it themselves. But the time and physical commitment it takes to care for a loved one just keeps growing as it eats into work hours and income. This of course can result in an unintended consequence: Just at the time that paying for care becomes necessary, the loss of income makes that impossible and pushes the caregiver over the edge of becoming a full-time, unpaid caregiver.

See also: 2014: a critical year for the future of long-term care in America
Employers have started to act by offering assistance to employees trying to juggle the demands of being a family caregiver while also being employed. Approximately 33 percent of large employers have implemented elder care support programs, such as:
  • Access to alternative funding options such as converting life insurance policies into long-term care benefits; VA aid and attendance; reverse mortgages, etc.

  • Benefits such as flextime, telecommuting and job-sharing

  • Programs to provide respite care, adult day services and caregiver support groups

  • Information, referral and educational programs

  • Employee and/or employer funded long-term care insurance
To help employers estimate their productivity costs for working caregivers, visit eldercarecalculator.org.

Long-term care often requires the participation and active support of one or more family members to help a loved one. Businesses are realizing that they are losing billions of dollars in hard costs and lost productivity. The government is recognizing the financial cost to families and business. Now, through the growing realization that a variety of funding options exist that can help and the willingness of businesses to institute support programs for families, there may be less burden on families and the U.S. economy.

Sources:
• Caregiving in the United States, released by the National Alliance for Caregiving and AARP
• The MetLife Caregiving Cost Study: Productivity Losses to U.S. Business, released by MetLife Mature Market Institute and the National Alliance for Caregiving
• Congressional Commission on Long Term Care
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