Research and Analysis by Kathleen McGarry

Medicare Gaps and Widow Poverty
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 66, No. 1 (released September 2005)
by Kathleen McGarry and Robert F. Schoeni

Out-of-pocket medical costs are concentrated at the end of life. At the same time, poverty is three to four times more common among elderly widows than among similarly aged married women. When the possible relationship between these two facts are explored, out-of-pocket medical spending in the months before death is found to be large relative to income and could thus negatively affect the financial well-being of the surviving spouse. Simulations investigate the extent to which expansions in insurance coverage to include nursing home care, long hospital stays, or prescription drugs could improve the financial outcomes for widow(er)s.