THURSDAY, Feb. 13, 2020 (HealthDay News) — Unpaid adult caregivers are at higher risk for not having insurance and putting off necessary health services due to cost, according to a study recently published in Rehabilitation Psychology.

Jamie L. Tingey, from Seattle Pacific University, and colleagues used data from the 2015 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System to assess if unpaid adult caregivers were more likely to experience specific risks related to health care access versus noncaregivers.

The researchers found that caregivers (24,034 individuals; 64.5 percent female; 69.6 percent pre-retirement age) were more at risk for lacking health care coverage and underutilizing needed health care service due to cost compared with noncaregivers (84,412 individuals; 57.3 percent female; 61.8 percent pre-retirement age). Among caregivers, the investigators also observed an increased risk for lifetime diagnosis of a depressive disorder and activity limitations due to a health challenge.

“Informal caregiving provides enormous economic value to our society because if we were to replace informal caregiving with formal, paid caregiving services, it could cost the country upwards of $600 billion in wages for home health aides,” a coauthor said in a statement. “Despite the economic benefits for society and valuable assistance provided to care recipients, attention must also be given to caregivers’ own financial, physical, and emotional challenges.”

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