Comprehensive support of family caregivers: Are there health system cost offsets?

Journal Article (Journal Article)

OBJECTIVES: To examine the effect of the Department of Veterans Affairs' (VA) Program of Comprehensive Assistance for Caregivers (PCAFC) on total VA health care costs for Veterans. DATA SOURCES: VA claims. STUDY DESIGN: Using a pre-post cohort design with nonequivalent control group, we estimated the effect of PCAFC on total VA costs up through 6 years. The treatment group included Veterans (n = 32 394) whose caregivers enrolled in PCAFC. The control group included an inverse probability of treatment weighted sample of Veterans whose caregivers were denied PCAFC enrollment (n = 38 402). DATA EXTRACTION: May 2009-September 2017. PRINCIPAL FINDINGS: Total VA costs pre-PCAFC application date were no different between groups. Veterans in PCAFC were estimated to have $13 227 in VA costs in the first 6 months post-PCAFC application, compared to $10 806 for controls. Estimated VA costs for both groups decreased in the first 3 years with a narrowing, but persistent and significant, difference, through 5.5 years. No significant difference in VA health care costs existed at 6 years, approximately $10 000 each, though confidence intervals reflect significant uncertainty in cost differences at 6 years. CONCLUSIONS: Increased costs arose from increased outpatient costs of participants. Sample composition changes may explain lack of significance in cost differences at 6 years because these costs comprise of early appliers to PCAFC. Examining 10-year costs could elucidate whether there are long-term cost offsets from increased engagement in outpatient care.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Van Houtven, CH; Smith, VA; Stechuchak, KM; Berkowitz, TSZ; Miller, KEM; Shepherd-Banigan, M; Kabat, M; Henius, J

Published Date

  • October 2020

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 55 / 5

Start / End Page

  • 710 - 721

PubMed ID

  • 32621548

Pubmed Central ID

  • PMC7518809

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1475-6773

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1111/1475-6773.13312


  • eng

Conference Location

  • United States