In a post on The Health Care Blog, Stephen Soumerai, ScD, Professor of Population Medicine and Director of the Drug Policy Research Group, discusses how high out-of-pocket health care costs for seniors can be tragic because people will opt to go without essential medical care. The “inflation adjustment” recently proposed by the federal government is supposed to decrease the Social Security beneficiary’s income by a few hundred dollars a year. But, in reality, the reduction will amount to $1,600 in cases where the beneficiary is older, poorer, and sicker – punishing those who already have difficulty paying for life’s necessities.
Studies conducted through the Department of Population Medicine have shown that a 50% reduction in drug benefits in New Hampshire for low income, chronically ill seniors backfired. Another study demonstrated that about 30% of disabled Medicare recipients in poor health skip or split pills to make them last longer because they cannot afford prescription drugs which has been shown, by other researchers, to increase hospitalization of heart disease patients by 21%.
Dr. Soumerai further cites financial estimates regarding average retirement savings and estimated average cost of retirees’ out-of-pocket medical expenses from several data sources to make the point that this Social Security cost-of-living adjustment is both flawed and morally unacceptable.