An October 2017 Center for Retirement Research paper looks at the amount retirees spend on health care out of pocket as compared with income. It finds that Medicare out-of-pocket costs are so high that retirement income for many is inadequate, threatening people’s retirement security. Typically retirees spend one third of their Social Security benefits on Medicare out-of-pocket costs.
Based on 2014 data, researchers found that, on average, retirees spend $4,274 a year out of pocket on medical and hospital care. Almost $3,000 is spent on premiums. Costs for long-term care are in addition to these costs. But, Michelle Andrews of Kaiser Health News reports that the researchers did not find a significant increase in average out-of-pocket spending when long-term care is factored in.
Researchers further found that about 20 percent of a typical retiree’s income goes to Medicare out-of-pocket costs. And, almost one in five of retirees (18 percent) were left with less than half of their Social Security checks after paying for Medicare costs. Six percent of them were left with less than half of their total income, including Social Security benefits.
That said, the researchers also found a $426 reduction in out-of-pocket spending in 2014 from 2004. In 2004, it averaged, $4,700. This drop is most likely attributable to the introduction of the Medicare Part D prescription drug benefit.
In short, we need to expand Social Security if we want to ensure retirees can make ends meet and keep them from falling into poverty. Their situation could get even worse by 2020, when Medicare spending is projected to increase.
If you want Congress to expand Social Security benefits, please sign this petition.
Here’s more from Just Care:
- Standard 2018 Medicare premium projected not to increase, but for many premiums may still rise
- 2108 Social Security benefits should increase, but checks may not
- Four things to know if your income is low and you have Medicare
- Get Help: Free and low-cost local and national resources for people over 65
- Medicare Open Enrollment: Save money and time, revisit your choices