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Elderly Spend 19% of Income on Medical Care

From the April 2000 issue of Journal of Gerontology, comes articles showing that the elderly spend a big percentage of their income for medical services. The research showed these expenses to incorporate out-of-pocket expenses for example health insurance premiums, medical co-payments, and prescriptions, using more than half of these payments going toward prescription drugs and dental care.

The lead author, Stephen Crystal, chairman of the Division on Aging of the Institute for Health, Health Care Policy and Aging Research at Rutgers University summed up the findings with a comment, "Nineteen percent is pretty burdensome for the average elderly person, though the figures are more serious for anyone in the lowest income levels, for those with chronic health problems and for the oldest of the old." Possibly the largest percentage of that expense is prescription medications. According to the study, prescribed medication costs have grown to account for 33.9%, more than one-third, of the overall-all out-of-pocket expenses for the elderly. Presently, there is a push for coverage of prescription medications by various programs which cover seniors. The fears are that if coverage is obtained both the price and amount of drugs prescriptions will increase.

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