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The Cost Burden of Alzheimer's

MHE PublicationMHE March 2022
Volume 32
Issue 3

The toll that Alzheimer’s disease takes on the health of those affected by the disease is enormous. And so is the associated expense.

The toll that Alzheimer’s disease takes on the health of those affected by the disease is enormous. And so is the associated expense.

According to the Alzheimer’s Association 2021 Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures report, the healthcare and long-term care costs for all individuals with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia totaled $305 billion in 2020, with Medicare footing just over half of the bill.

Related: Frequent and Feared. But Can Dementia Be Avoided?

The Alzheimer’s Association report puts the cost in perspective by comparing the per-person costs for someone with Alzheimer’s to someone without the disease. In 2019, the annual per-person payments from all payers for Medicare patients with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia was $50,201. For people without the disease, they were $14,326, or less than a third of that amount.

The report cites research calculating that the lifetime cost of care for someone with Alzheimer’s to be just shy of $360,000 (in 2019 dollars), double the lifetime costs for people without the disease. These cost differences are explained, in part, by much greater utilization of healthcare and long-term care services by people with Alzheimer’s. For example, people with Alzheimer’s have seven times as many skilled nursing facilities stays on a per 1,000 beneficiaries per year basis as those without the disease.

The care that family and loved ones provide often goes unaccounted for in the cost figure for Alzheimer’s. The Alzheimer’s Association report calculated that caregivers provide an average of 21.9 hours of care a week, which adds up to 1,139 hours per year. If the 16.3 million estimated caregivers were paid $13.11 an hour, the cost of the care they provide without pay would come to nearly $244 billion in 2019, the report says.

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