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How hospitals and insurers can support caregiving

By: Dan Johnson, Vice President of Sales and Marketing

Caregiving is a huge responsibility. For one in six U.S. employees, it is essentially a second job given the time and energy required to be a caregiver for a loved one.1 We recently took a look at how employers could support employees who are caregivers, but it’s not just employers who are trying to help; the healthcare industry and insurance carriers are on board too. Since November is National Family Caregivers Month, it’s the perfect time to show how this emphasis on supporting caregivers is paying dividends for patients, employees and their employers.

A look at the state of the caregiving

The growing number of people who are caregivers, or who will be caregivers, is well documented. By 2050, 20 percent of the U.S. population will be elderly.2 On top of this, family caregivers perform 80 percent of long-term care.3 Then factor in the many young people who will need caregiving or long-term care, and it’s easy to see why there is such concern.

Caregiving is a challenge to the health and financial security of the caregiver and the patient receiving care. But the challenges don’t end there; it also ends up affecting their health and their performance on the job. Caregivers miss six to seven extra days of work each year and cost employers about 8 percent more in healthcare spend.1

Healthcare facilities supporting caregivers

It is not, however, all gloom and doom on the subject of caregiving. Though the increase in people providing care means more stressed employees and greater costs for employers, some healthcare facilities are starting to look at solutions which can help. 

More than 30 states have passed the Caregiver Advise, Record and Enable (CARE) Act, which encourages healthcare organizations to incorporate family caregivers into the discharge process when leaving a hospital. In response, the healthcare organizations that practice meaningful family caregiver engagement can reduce hospital readmissions by one-quarter.3 This means that family members are likely to spend less time providing care, the recipient of care has fewer hospital visits and the result is a lowered healthcare spend for the employers protecting either the caregiver or the patient. 

Innovative solutions from the insurance industry

Educating caregivers to help them support their loved ones is a great start, but there are still tangible costs for caregivers. Studies have found that caregivers spend an average of nearly $7,000 on out-of-pocket costs related to caregiving.4 

To help cope with these costs, some insurance companies have started looking at ways to provide financial support for caregivers. For example, Trustmark’s Critical LifeEvents product offers a benefit for a policyholder who provides care for an eligible family member. This kind of approach supports the caregiver, helps them provide the care the patient needs and reduces absenteeism and distractions at work by helping to ease financial burdens. It is not a cure-all solution to the issue of caregiving, but it’s a step in the right direction.

For everyone involved; patients, caregivers and employers who have a role in protecting the affected families, there is a cost to caregiving. Whether it’s their time, their finances or their health, there is a lot at stake. That’s why it’s critically important to provide ways to help with support through innovative healthcare facilities or financial relief from forward-thinking insurance companies.

1 Why employers need to offer benefits to informal caregivers. Employee Benefit News. March 28, 2017.
2 Rising Demand for Long-Term Services and Supports for Elderly People. June, 2013.
3 “Family caregiver engagement cuts hospital readmissions by 25%” Patient EngagementHIT. April, 2017.
“Family Caregiving and Out-of-Pocket Costs: 2016 Report”. AARP. 2016.