Out-of-Pocket Costs for Childhood Stroke: The Impact of Chronic Illness on Parents' Pocketbooks



      Direct costs for children who had stroke are similar to those for adults. There is no information regarding the out-of-pocket costs families encounter. We described the out-of-pocket costs families encountered in the first year after a child's ischemic stroke.


      Twenty-two subjects were prospectively recruited at four centers in the United States and Canada in 2008 and 2009 as part of the “Validation of the Pediatric NIH Stroke Scale” study; families' indirect costs were tracked for 1 year. Every 3 months, parents reported hours they did not work, nonreimbursed costs for medical visits or other health care, and mileage. They provided estimates of annual income. We calculated total out-of-pocket costs in US dollars and reported costs as a proportion of annual income.


      Total median out-of-pocket cost for the year after an ischemic stroke was $4354 (range, $0-$28,666; interquartile range, $1008-$8245). Out-of-pocket costs were greatest in the first 3 months after the incident stroke, with the largest proportion because of lost wages, followed by transportation, and nonreimbursed health care. For the entire year, median costs represented 6.8% (range, 0%-81.9%; interquartile range, 2.7%-17.2%) of annual income.


      Out-of-pocket expenses are significant after a child's ischemic stroke. The median costs are noteworthy provided that the median American household had cash savings of $3650 at the time of the study. These results with previous reports of direct costs provide a more complete view of the overall costs to families and society. Childhood stroke creates an under-recognized cost to society because of decreased parental productivity.


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