- A new analysis, published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, finds total healthcare spending for people with dementia was more than a quarter-million dollars per person in the last five years of life.
- Funded primarily by the National Institute on Aging, the finding is 57% greater than costs associated with death from other diseases, including cancer and heart disease.
- The authors estimate that total healthcare spending was $287,000 for those with probable dementia and $183,000 for other Medicare beneficiaries in the study.
The researchers calculated costs from Medicare, Medicaid, private insurance, out-of-pocket, and informal care over the last five years of life.
For families, out-of-pocket spending for those with dementia was $61,522 compared to $34,068 for those without dementia, according to the results. Informal care costs were estimated to be $83,022 for people with dementia vs. $38,272 for those without dementia.
In addition, out-of-pocket spending as a proportion of total household wealth five years before death was significantly higher — median of 32% for dementia and 11% for other diseases.
The gap in the financial burden between those with and without dementia was larger among those who were unmarried, African American, and had less than a high school education, according to the authors. Single women with dementia also incurred more out-of-pocket costs than married women with dementia.
“Healthcare expenditures among persons with dementia were substantially larger than those for other diseases, and many of the expenses were [uninsured]," the authors concluded. “This places a large financial burden on families, and these burdens are particularly pronounced among the demographic groups that are least prepared for financial risk”