Impoverished Seniors Rate Nearly Doubles

The biggest rise [in poverty] occurred among people aged 65 and older who are being driven into poverty by out-of-pocket medical expenses, including premiums and co-pays from the federal government's Medicare program for the elderly.

It’s been fairly clear that medical expenses were becoming an immense financial drain on the elderly. If you are elderly or have an elderly loved one, then this is a given, as supported by recent census data.

As reported in Reuters, the number of poor persons hit a record high in 2010, and poverty rates among the elderly have had the steepest gain.

In fact, according to the census, a record 49 million Americans (i.e., 16 percent of the population) qualify as impoverished. When it comes to the elderly, the poverty level jumped to 15.9 percent, or roughly 1 in 6, from the previous year’s nine percent.

It’s true that the census study and methods have become a political flashpoint. However, the new analysis takes a broader look at life and includes government benefits. Previous studies used older methods that failed to account for how people maintained their standard of living.

Politics aside, it’s still a sobering data. If government benefits have become that much more of the equation, then it goes a long way towards showing what’s at stake in the present and upcoming political storms.

Reference: Reuters (November 7, 2011) “New Census data raise number of poor to 49 million


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