Originally from Web site: www.medicarerights.org

The financial burden of health care costs continues to increase for people with Medicare, according to two new reports released by the Kaiser Family Foundation.

Out-of-pocket health care costs for people with Medicare continued to rise in the last decade. In 2005, half of the people with Medicare spent more than 16 percent of their income on health expenses, an increase from the median out-of-pocket spending in 1997, when half of the people with Medicare spent less than 12 percent out-of-pocket, according to Revisiting ‘Skin in the Game’ Among Medicare Beneficiaries, an update to a previous Kaiser paper. Both years predate the start of the Medicare drug benefit.

People with Medicare spend a higher share of their total expenditures on health care-related costs than do people who do not have Medicare, according to Health Care on a Budget: An Analysis of Spending by Medicare Households. In 2006, people with Medicare allocated 14.1 percent of their total spending to health care, as compared to non-Medicare households that spent 4.3 percent on average. The disparity in spending can be partly explained by people’s declining health—and need for more care—as they get older.

Two-thirds, or 62.9 percent, of Medicare households’ health care expenditures were spent on Medicare and Medigap premiums in 2006. In the same year, drug costs accounted for 18.1 percent of health care-related expenditures, followed by 15.3 percent for medical services and 3.8 percent for medical supplies.

Together the reports demonstrate that people with Medicare have greater medical needs and spend more out-of pocket than people without Medicare, despite people with Medicare having lower incomes on average than the non-Medicare population.

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