1/4 of Medicare Beneficiaries Spend at Least 20% of Income on Health Care

1/4 of Medicare Beneficiaries Spend at Least 20% of Income on Health Care

Did you know that more than one-fourth of all Medicare beneficiaries—15 million people—spend 20% or more of their incomes on premiums plus medical care, including cost-sharing and uncovered services? This is a big financial burden, and beneficiaries with incomes below 200% of the poverty level (just under $24,000 for a single person) and those with multiple chronic conditions or functional limitations are at a greater financial risk. Even though Medicare insures over 56 million people, 17% of the U.S. population, its benefits exclude dental, vision, hearing, and long-term services, and it contains no ceiling on out-of-pocket costs for covered services, exposing beneficiaries to such high costs.

The Commonwealth Fund recently published a report exposing these high out-of-pocket health care costs and recommends our policymakers seriously consider how proposals to reform Medicare would affect those with poor health or low income.

For details and to read the full report, see: Medicare Beneficiaries’ High Out-of-Pocket Costs: Cost Burdens by Income and Health Status.

Our blogger Karen J. Fletcher is CHA's publications consultant. She provides technical expertise, writing and research on Medicare, health disparities and other health care issues. With a Masters in Public Health from UC Berkeley, she serves in health advocacy as a trainer and consultant. See her current articles.