No one should think that Medicare provides more than partial health care coverage. A new Kaiser Family Foundation report reveals high costs for people with Medicare. Average out-of-pocket spending was $4,734 in 2010, (the most recent year for which data was available), about 20 percent of the median income of people with Medicare, $23,500. (In 2014, it’s $24,150).
The ten percent of people with Medicare with the highest costs spent an average of $19,236 in 2010 on premiums, coinsurance and services that Medicare does not cover. People with costly conditions requiring multiple hospitalizations and long-term care incurred particularly high out-of-pocket costs.
The oldest Medicare recipients also spent significantly more out-of-pocket on health care. People over 85 spent about three times more out of pocket ($5962) than people between 65 and 74 ($1926).
Women spent more than men on average in 2010, $5036 and $4363 respectively. Higher health care spending by women with Medicare is largely attributable to women living longer and needing long-term care, which Medicare for the most part does not pay for.
Even with Medicare, people who were hospitalized and then admitted to nursing homes had the highest documented out-of-pocket costs, which amounted to $9508. Medicare does not cover most home care or nursing home care. People with Alzheimer’s also had particularly high out-of-pocket health care costs of $8305 on average.
But the people with the largest health care bills were the people living in long-term care facilities, paying $17,534. They spent nine times more than people with Medicare living in the community, whose average costs were $1858.
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