Informal Care Intensity and Caregiver Drug Utilization
Providing informal care has negative health consequences for informal caregivers. If these health consequences increase drug utilization among caregivers, estimates of health care savings from informal care—mainly realized through reductions in utilization among care recipients—should consider the increased drug costs incurred by informal caregivers. This paper evaluates whether more intensive informal caregivers have higher drug utilization than less intensive caregivers, controlling for initial health status and other factors. We find that informal care intensity is associated with higher drug consumption. An increase of 10% of total informal care per day is associated with a 0.7% increase in drugs. The small magnitudes indicate that, in this application, it is not important to consider caregiver drug utilization when quantifying the net savings to the health care system of informal care. For individual caregivers, such as those who take multiple drugs per month and/or have no drug coverage, the increase in drug utilization associated with intensive caregiving is likely to be costly. Copyright Springer Science+Business Media, Inc. 2005
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