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Valuing the Invaluable: A New Look at State Estimates of the Economic Value of Family Caregiving (Data Update)

2008 Update Report

Family members and friends are the backbone of long-term care (LTC) in all states, providing vital assistance with essential daily activities to loved ones of all ages with disabilities every day. In every state, caregivers are a significant fraction of the state population.

The contributions of informal, unpaid caregivers are not only the foundation of the nation’s LTC system but an important component of the U.S. economy, with an estimated economic value of about $350 billion in 2006.

This AARP Public Policy Institute Data Digest takes a fresh look at estimating the economic value of family caregiving at the state level. These estimates provide new detail as to state variation in caregiving prevalence and the average hourly value of caregiving in each state. They are also benchmarked against several measures of Medicaid spending in order to illustrate the magnitude of the economic value of family caregiving. Medicaid, a joint federal-state program, is the largest source of funding for long-term care services in the United States.

This update includes comparisons to FY 2006 Medicaid spending. At the time of the original release, FY 2005 Medicaid spending data were the most recent available. Estimates of the number of caregivers, total economic value of caregiving, and economic value per hour have not changed from the original release. (8 pages)

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