The Cost of a Stroke

Do you like saving money? Then you should learn how to avoid a stroke, because it is one of the most expensive medical conditions you can have in your lifetime. We don't always think of our health in terms of the financial implications, but the latest trend in employment benefits looks at wellness in terms of a concrete cost/ benefit approach, and there is more data available about the cost of illness than ever before.

A stroke is one of the most costly illnesses you could ever have because it causes long-term disability and requires intense medical care. Stroke care in the United States costs between 36.6 to 72.7 billion dollars annually. A stroke costs each individual stroke survivor about $140,000 over a lifetime, and here is the breakdown of that cost.

Health Care

Health care is generally covered by health insurance, and should not add a substantial personal expense if you have had a stroke, except for copays, deductibles, non-covered procedures, and denials. Even with the most straightforward insurance plan, costs of a stroke are expected to add up to between $400 and $2500 per year. The components of health care expenses include:

Hospital stay for an initial stroke costs about $9500

Medical tests and imaging tests in follow up stroke care costs between $3000-10,000 for an uncomplicated stroke.

The cost of healthcare providers such as doctors, nurses, and therapists costs about $35 per hour.

 

Medication for stroke management is estimated to cost between $1200 and $1100 over a lifetime.

Income Loss

Work income loss can be a huge financial burden after a stroke. It can be difficult to continue your job at full force if you have suffered from severe physical or cognitive handicaps after a stroke.

There is more to work income loss than your salary loss.

  • Salary loss – one component of your income loss includes your actual salary loss. The average US wage is $26,800 per year and $47,000 for college-educated workers in the US.
  • Benefits- your benefits are part of your earnings loss when you stop working because your income loss actually includes your salary plus the benefits you get from working, which typically add up to $2000 to $15,000 per year or higher.
  • Investment loss- if you invest excess income of $2000 per year at a modest return of 3%, you can expect to lose hundreds of dollars per year in potential investments after a stroke, and thousands more if you consider the loss associated with reinvesting compounding gains.
  • Early retirement penalty- cashing in on retirement payout early can cost as much as 5-15% penalty per year, which can be a loss of thousands of dollars in retirement income.

Assistance with Home Care and Transportation

After a stroke, it can be difficult to keep up with activities of daily living, such as driving and housework.

The cost of hiring someone to help with these tasks varies. If you can obtain help from a family member for free, that loved one’s time lost from her own work or self-care may be costly.

  • Driving- taking public transportation can add about $30 per week to the cost of stroke care if you are fortunate enough to live in an urban area with good public transportation. If you need to hire someone to drive you around, that can cost anywhere from $7 to $15 per hour plus the cost of gas.
  • Housework - hiring someone to do housework for you can cost anywhere from $7-$25 per hour for tasks such as shopping, cooking, housework and yard work that you would normally do yourself.

Medical Assistance

Special assistance after a stroke can include using a device to help you get around, or having a health care professional come to your home to care for your medical condition if you need at-home care.

  • Walker- a walker runs between $30 to several hundred dollars for the most advanced features.
  • Wheelchair- a wheelchair costs between $150 for a simple wheelchair to $4000 and up for specialized models.
  • Health aid- hiring a home health provider to check on your medical condition and to give you medications or shots at home can cost several hundred dollars per month for part time care and can run in the tens of thousands per month for around the clock care.

The cost of a stroke sounds staggering when you add up all of the components. Fortunately, the expense of preventing a stroke costs almost nothing. Learn how to exercise, to lower your stress, to add antioxidants to your diet and to use the right cooking oils to lower your risk of stroke.

Sources

Incidence, prevalence, costs, and impact on disability of common conditions requiring rehabilitation in the United States: stroke, spinal cord injury, traumatic brain injury, multiple sclerosis, osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, limb loss, and back pain, Ma VY, Chan L, Carruthers KJ, Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, May 2014

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