2, 2015 - For many older people and their families, particularly those
dealing with conditions such as Alzheimer’s or cancer that often require
long-term, pricey medical care, running out of money is a nagging
Families are right to be worried,
according to a new study that analyzed data from nearly 1,200 people who
died between 2010 and 2012 and who participated in the University of
ongoing national Health and Retirement Study.
Among people who were age 85 or
older when they died, one in five had no assets left apart from their
homes, and 12 percent had no assets left at all, only income from
sources such as Social Security or pensions. The
analysis by the Employee Benefit Research Institute found that those
who died younger were even worse off. Among people who died between age
50 and 64, 30 percent were without assets and 37 percent had only their
Families where someone died at a
relatively young age tend to have lower incomes and assets, says Sudipto
Banerjee, a research associate at EBRI and the study’s author.
“People with lower assets and
income tend to be in worse health,” he says, noting that many studies
have found a correlation between health and wealth, showing that
wealthier people tend to live longer than poorer people.
The EBRI study didn’t examine the
reasons people’s finances were often depleted at death, so there’s no
way to know the extent to which health care, specific illnesses or
insurance coverage played a role.
Financial experts have long
cautioned that medical care for seniors is an expensive concern, partly
because some care related to Alzheimer’s disease, for example, is not
covered by insurance.
In addition, even with Medicare
coverage and private insurance, seniors still can face large
out-of-pocket expenses for major illnesses. According to an
estimate by Fidelity, a 65-year-old couple who retired in 2014 would
need $220,000 to cover their health care costs during retirement.
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