Medicare offers users basic medical coverage, with occasional out-of-pocket expenses for nursing and serious illnesses.
However, a new report suggests these medical costs may add up over time, and contribute to credit card debt, as medical costs have become a major contributor to a rise in bankruptcy filings.
The study, conducted by Professor John Pottow of the University of Michigan, found bankruptcy figures have risen sharply from 1991 to 2007 among the elderly. During this time, the percentage filings for this demographic rose 178 percent, Reuters reports.
“Chronic conditions, drug costs and nursing home costs are a big area of concern,” Melissa Jacoby, a University of North Carolina law professor, told Reuters. “And when people put those expenses on a high-interest rate credit card, the financial burden of those costs escalate.”
The report found married couples will accumulate an average of $197,000 in uninsured health costs over the course of a lifetime. With nursing factored in, typical coverage can pass the half million mark.
New healthcare laws aim to lessen this financial burden. Recent updates have closed gaps on prescription drug coverage.