Amy Kelley at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York and colleagues said although Medicare provides nearly universal healthcare coverage for those age 65 and older the out-of-pocket expenses -- co-payments, deductibles, home-care services and nursing home care -- can be extensive. Medicare does not pay for long-term nursing home care
The study, published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine, also found more than three-quarters of Medicare households spent at least $10,000 in the last five years of life, while one-quarter made an average contribution of $101,791 and one-quarter spent more than their total household assets on healthcare out-of-pocket expenses.
The study authors analyzed data from 3,209 individuals with Medicare coverage included in the Health and Retirement Study from 2002 to 2008. They measured total out-of-pocket healthcare expenditures in the last five years of life.
The study also found out-of-pocket spending for individuals or their spouses dying with dementia was more than twice the average for dying from gastrointestinal disease or cancer.