Paying higher out-of-pocket medical costs could strain seniors' finances, study finds

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If seniors have to pay a higher portion of their medical costs, it could lead to their financial ruin, especially if they have dementia, a study asserts.

Various Medicare reform proposals have suggested that seniors should pay a higher percentage of their healthcare costs. To identify how much Medicare beneficiaries spend on healthcare costs in the last five years of life, a National Institute of Aging study analyzed data over six years from 3,209 individuals with Medicare coverage.

They found that out-of-pocket spending for individuals or their spouses dying of dementia was more than twice the average when compared to spending on those dying of gastrointestinal disease or cancer. The bulk of these costs were related to nursing home expenses, which accounted for 56% of average spending in those suffering from Alzheimer's disease.

“As more baby boomers retire, a new generation of widows or widowers could face a sharply diminished financial future as they confront their recently-depleted nest egg following the illness and death of a spouse,” the study states.
 
The study was published online in the Journal of General Internal Medicine.