Changes in Health Care Expenditure after the Loss of a Spouse : Data on 6,487 Older Widows and Widowers in the Netherlands

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Changes in Health Care Expenditure after the Loss of a Spouse : Data on 6,487 Older Widows and Widowers in the Netherlands

Type: Article / letter to editor
Title: Changes in Health Care Expenditure after the Loss of a Spouse : Data on 6,487 Older Widows and Widowers in the Netherlands
Author: Rolden, Herbert J.A.; Bodegom, David van; Westendorp, Rudi G.J.
Issue Date: 2014
Abstract: Background: In ageing populations, informal care holds great potential to limit rising health care expenditure. The majority of informal care is delivered by spouses. The loss of informal care due to the death of the spouse could therefore increase expenditure levels for formal care. Objective: To investigate the impact of the death of the spouse on health care expenditure by older people through time. Additionally, to examine whether the impact differs between socio-demographic groups, and what health services are affectedmost. Design: Longitudinal data on health care expenditure (from July 2007 through 2010) from a regional Dutch health care insurer was matched with data on marital status (2004–2011) from the Central Bureau of Statistics. Linear mixed models with log transformed health care expenditure, generalized linear models and two-part models were used to retrieve standardized levels of monthly health care expenditure of 6,487 older widowed subjects in the 42 months before and after the loss of the spouse. Results: Mean monthly health care expenditure in married subjects was J502 in the 42 months before the death of the spouse, and expenditure levels rose by J239 (48%) in the 42 months after the death of the spouse. The increase in expenditure after the death of the spouse was highest for men (J319; 59%) and the oldest old (J553; 82%). Expenditure levels showed the highest increase for hospital and home care services (together J166). Conclusions: The loss of the spouse is associated with an increase in health care expenditure. The relatively high rise in long-term care expenses suggests that the loss of informal care is an important determinant of this rise.
Editor(s): Baradaran, Hamid Reza
Citation: Rolden HJA, van Bodegom D, Westendorp RGJ (2014) Changes in Health Care Expenditure after the Loss of a Spouse: Data on 6,487 Older Widows and Widowers in the Netherlands. PLoS ONE 9(12): e115478.
Series/Report no.: PLoS ONE;9(12)
Handle: http://hdl.handle.net/1887/46215
 

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