Analysis: Seniors bear greatest out-of-pocket burden

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Older Americans struggle more with the burden of out-of-pocket spending than younger adults because they generally have higher medical expenses and lower incomes, a new analysis finds.

For households with two or more people, the average per capita out-of-pocket health spending for 2003 was nearly five times higher for seniors than people under the age of 65 ($2,308 versus $514). Investigators for the Kaiser Family Foundation used data from the Consumer Expenditures Survey from 1998 to 2003 to reach their findings.

The nation's workers are encountering more cost-sharing requirements, higher insurance premiums and higher deductibles. But it appears that Americans 65 and older have been affected more by recent healthcare inflation, the analysis indicates. The report notes, for example, that Medicare Part B premiums rose by 72% during a six-year period ending in 2005.

As the burden of healthcare spending increases over time, serious questions will be raised about the affordability of healthcare for seniors, the paper's authors concluded.