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The Cost Of Health Care In Retirement: Report Says $250,000

June 23, 2008

Memphis, TN – Folks who think they've planned well for retirement are getting quite a shock, and rising health care costs are to blame. A new report from the Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI) estimates that a married couple must save nearly $250,000 just to pay for medical expenses not covered by Medicare. Factor in rising housing costs and fuel prices, and some seniors are heading for bankruptcy, at a time in their lives when their earning potential is limited.

Dr. Arthur Sutherland is the Tennessee chapter president for the group Physicians for a National Health Care Program. He says the report highlights a "Catch-22" that has people sacrificing preventive care to save for emergencies.

"If people don't have insurance, they don't go to the physicians for wellness care. Also, if they have high deductibles and co-pays, they put off medical care."

The result, Sutherland believes, is that the current system amounts to "rationing" of health care, with those who are wealthy and employed getting the lion's share, and the greater burden falling on the poor. And Medicare doesn't offer much relief, he notes - the program's funding is not protected, making Medicare vulnerable to cuts, in order to help finance such other priorities as the war in Iraq.

PNHP advocates a single payer system that's available to everyone. While critics of a national healthcare system argue that it smacks of Socialism, Sutherland sees it as the best way to ensure a healthy, productive workforce.

"Every other industrialized country in the world has adopted this idea as a human right and a national goal, because it's good for the nation."

See the full report online, at www.ebri.org.

Barbara Dab/Kevin Clay, Public News Service - TN