Time, Cost Burden Millennials & Gen Xers Take on as Role of Caregiver

November 13, 2020
Briana Contreras
Briana Contreras

Today, senior care can have a number of health benefits for the well-being of older adults. However, some family members of the patients receiving care are carrying more of the financial weight and taking care of the groundwork in their family member's care.

Today, senior care can have a number of health benefits for the well-being of older adults. However, some family members of the patients receiving care are carrying more of the financial weight and taking care of the groundwork in their family member's care.

In the latest research report from GoHealth, “GenX & Millennials Take on the Role of Caregiver,” over one in four millennials, (28%) and two in five Generation Xers (39%) manage or help manage their parents’ healthcare. Both generations are also spending about 11.5 hours each week managing their parents’ healthcare, with an expected time span of 14 to 16 years to be involved in their parent’s healthcare.

According to the report, some in each generation spend their time helping parents with health needs by:

  • Scheduling their parents’ doctor visits (66% millennials; 73% Gen Xers)
  • Attending doctor visits (70% millennials; 75% Gen Xers)
  • Helping parents select their doctor (72% millennials; 75% Gen Xers)
  • Providing transportation to and from doctor visits (75% millennials; 77% Gen Xers)

Michael Howard, senior member services specialist, of GoHealth​, says paying for and managing healthcare services can be financially draining for some of these caregivers.

In the report, many millennials (37%) and Gen Xers (45%) admit to spending more than $10,000 of their own money in the last year to pay for their parents’ healthcare costs – such as premiums (64% of millennials; 58% of Gen Xers), deductibles and copays (59% of millennials; 54% of Gen Xers) and medications (65% of millennials; 62% of Gen Xers). The time and money that caregivers put into managing their parents’ healthcare reveals improvements must be made to control the cost of healthcare and its delivery, Howard says.

Although caregivers are making massive financial and time investments, what many people, especially Medicare beneficiaries, are unaware of is some plans include support. These support plans include providing free rides to appointments, and licensed insurance agents can help seniors select doctors and plans. Not only does this give caregivers their time back, it can also ensure seniors get the right care for their unique needs. Determining if a plan includes these benefits is simple and only a call away – licensed insurance agents can help point seniors and their caregivers in the right direction, he says.

"Regarding improving healthcare delivery - it’s critical for healthcare providers, insurance agencies and doctors to communicate with beneficiaries (and their caregivers) to help understand the ins and outs of health insurance plans, benefits and available services," Howard adds. "Knowing that managing healthcare can be burdensome for many households, insurance agencies and providers play a role in helping to close coverage gaps and ensure they have the necessary support and resources along the way.

In order for caregivers to best control their finances, Howard recommends millennial and Generation X caregivers estimate costs ahead-of-time, which can be done by identifying what insurance plan fits their parents’ needs best and anticipating fees, copays, etc.

"Unfortunately, our report found that 44% of millennials and 55% Gen Xers are likely to acquire debt to take care of their parents," he says. "Most even say they will likely need to delay their own retirement due to the need to financially support their parents (56% millennials; 73% Gen Xers). But it doesn’t need to be this way, and there are available resources that ensure seniors get the support they need without financially crippling caregivers."

Howard says the best way to control finances is to ensure seniors are in the right insurance plan that can pick up some of the financial burden.

"Always make sure that doctors are in-network and prescriptions are covered, while paying special attention to the maximum out-of-pocket costs and hospital co-pays to reduce last-minute or unexpected fees," he adds. "Triple checking these elections and benefits will also help the caregiver estimate annual costs for healthcare to weave into the established budget. In the end, it’s absolutely critical that caregivers take a financially healthy approach to caring for their parents."