Single seniors’ out-of-pocket health expenses higher than couples’News added by Benefits Pro on January 22, 2016

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Joined: September 07, 2011

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By Marlene Y. Satter

Pity the single senior.

Not only are rising drug costs out of control, but singles end up paying substantially more out of pocket than senior couples for nonrecurring health care services such as home health care, nursing home stays, overnight hospital stays, and outpatient surgery.

That’s according to a report from the Employee Benefit Research Institute, which analyzed out-of-pocket spending for households age 65 and older found a major difference in trends between recurring health care services (such as doctor and dentist visits and prescription drugs) and nonrecurring expenses.

But wait — it gets worse.

The differences increase with age.

In its report, EBRI said that “health care is the only component of household expenditures that increases with age, both in terms of absolute dollars and as a share of total household expenses.”

The study examined data for a two-year period between 2010 and 2012, and reported that, “in 2011, average annual out-of-pocket health care expenses for a household between ages 65 and 74 was $4,383, capturing on average 11 percent of total household expenses.

For households ages 85 and above, average out-of-pocket health care expenses increased to $6,603, capturing 19 percent of household expenses.”

While per-person out-of-pocket recurring health care expenses were not any different between single and couple households, for those 85 and above, singles and couples on average spent $13,355 and $8,530, respectively, on nonrecurring services during the two-year period of the study.

Why would singles have to pay more out of pocket than couples for such expenses? EBRI said that some of the largest differences in nonrecurring health care spending between older singles and older couples were in home health care and nursing home stays. “This was most likely due to the fact that in couple households, spouses or partners could act as caregivers for each other.”

Oh, and by the way, health insurance premiums and spending on over-the-counter drugs were not included in the study.

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