Costs of Caregiving – Part I

Tracy Davenport, Ph.D. Health Guide
  • Raising a baby or child is expensive. Raising a baby or child with reflux can have a catastrophic effect on a family’s budget. Like many of us who were thrown into the role of “caregiver” without much training, you may not know the financial implications of caring for a baby or child with reflux. My goal for this three-part series is not to scare you, but to help you realize just how important it is to understand the potential financial burden of reflux so you can plan accordingly.

    In this first part, I will define the potential costs of caring for a baby or child with acid reflux, and hopefully introduce you (or at least remind you) of some of the terms used by the professionals in the field. Armed with this knowledge, you may become an even better communicator and advocate for you and your family.

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    First, let’s look at the cost of raising a healthy child. USDA estimates the cost of raising one child to be a little more than $10,000 a year for the first 17 years of the child’s life. The basic expense categories that make up this figure are going to be about the same for a child with or without reflux. In other words, in order to care for a child with reflux, you will still need to spend money on things like housing, food, transportation and clothes. However, the amount of money you must spend for each of these categories may be more if you are caring for a baby or child with acid reflux. For example, you may need to buy special food, or travel to get the best medical care, or you may need to spend more money on extra clothes (or at least cleaning your old clothes). Then, there may be additional expenses like medication, extra doctor copays and possibly special equipment for your baby or child. These costs are not included in the $10,000 USDA estimate above. All of these costs are often referred to as the “direct costs” of caregiving.

    Then, there are the hidden, or “indirect costs” of caregiving. These costs may include missed work time, extra help you need with your other children or the psychological costs of the constant stress and strain of taking care of a baby or child who does not feel well. These are just a few examples of the potential indirect costs of the illness.

    There are only a few studies out there that compare the cost of one reflux treatment to another. Not surprisingly, there are even fewer studies that look at the overall financial burden for families who are caring for a family member with reflux. What does seem clear from our own personal budget and the reflux community is that having a chronic illness like reflux has an adverse effect on a family’s finances.

    In Part II, I will help you determine at which point the cost of caregiving may become unaffordable for your family.

Published On: November 17, 2006