Tags: dying | costs | health | saving

End-of-life Costs Often Exceed Savings

Tuesday, 11 Sep 2012 11:10 AM


For as many as one in four seniors, end-of-life health costs exceed life savings – with out-of-pocket expenses in the last five years of life surpassing the total value of Medicare recipients’ personal assets, a new study has found.
Researchers at Mount Sinai School of Medicine who conducted the study also found 43 percent of those on Medicare spend more than their total assets minus the value of their primary residences.
The study, published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine, noted the amount of spending varied with the patient's illness. Those with dementia or Alzheimer's disease spent the most – averaging $66,155 – more than twice that of patients with gastrointestinal disease or cancer (who spent an average of $31,069).
"Medicare provides a significant amount of health care coverage to people over 65, but it does not cover co-payments, deductibles, homecare services, or non-rehabilitative nursing home care," said lead researcher Dr. Amy S. Kelley, a geriatric medicine specialist at Mount Sinai. "I think a lot of people will be surprised by how high these out-of-pocket costs are in the last years of life."
Kelley and her colleages based their findings on 2002-2008 data collected from the Health and Retirement Study, involving 26,000 Americans over the age of 50, which is supported by the National Institute on Aging, and the Social Security Administration. They examined out-of-pocket health costs for 3,209 Medicare recipients during their last five years of life, and compared them to their total household assets.
The average spending costs totaled $38,688, with more than 75 percent of households spending at least $10,000. The top quarter of participants spent an average of $101,791.
"Prior to this study there was not a lot of data on the extent of out-of-pocket spending,” said Kelley. “This information can serve as an important tool to help individuals set realistic expectations for end-of-life health care costs, and for government officials to use in discussing Medicare policies."


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For one in four seniors on Medicare, health costs in the last five years of life exceed life savings.
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2012-10-11
Tuesday, 11 Sep 2012 11:10 AM
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