Despite enjoying Medicare coverage, low-income seniors can still spend a significant portion of their limited income on costs Medicare does not cover.

According to a new study published by the Commonwealth Fund, more than 25 percent of Medicare beneficiaries spend at least 20 percent of their income on health care – on things like premiums, cost-sharing, prescriptions, and dental and vision care, long-term care, and other services not covered by the federal program.  These costs pose a problem for many because nearly half of all Medicare participants have incomes below the federal poverty level, which is slightly less than $24,000 a year for a single person.  More than five million Medicare beneficiaries have no supplemental coverage, such as a Medigap plan or a Part D prescription drug plan, thereby increasing their out-of-pocket health care costs.

Such patients can be especially challenging for the nation’s private safety-net hospitals because often, they cannot afford their Medicare co-pays and deductibles.  In many cases, private safety-net hospitals end up absorbing these costs as uncompensated care – and because they serve far more low-income seniors than the typical American hospital, they experience this problem in far greater numbers and to a much greater degree and provide much more uncompensated care as a result.

Learn more about the out-of-pocket costs for which Medicare beneficiaries are responsible and how it affects them financially, and especially how it affects low-income Medicare beneficiaries financially, in the report “Medicare Beneficiaries’ High Out-of-Pocket Costs:  Cost Burdens by Income and Health Status,” which can be found here, on the Commonwealth Fund’s web site.