Health care costs send some seniors over the financial brink

By Megg Mueller on January 4th, 2011

For all the baby boomers headed toward retirement out there, I'm not sure how else to put this, but it sort of sucks to be you right now. While living on a fixed income has always been an important topic, as health care costs have skyrocketed and many people saw their savings dwindle in the face of the downturn, retiring now can be a very iffy proposition.

Many retirees are facing mounting health insurance costs, and as Senior Market Advisor reports, some people are now putting two-and-two together and attributing the rising number of senior bankruptcies to increased health care costs. While health care isn't the only cause, the fact remains--people 55 and older are the largest group filing for bankruptcy. AARP reported that in 2007, that group made up 23 percent of all persons filing for bankruptcy, and those in the 75-84 age group filed 433 percent more in 2007 than they had in 1991.

For those who haven't or don't face bankruptcy filings, the truth is many are still way over their head in debt. The same AARP story notes that even some who had planned long and hard for a debt-free retirement have ended up facing a different future. Facing unexpected layoffs or massive pay cuts as the recession hit, many seniors turned to credit cards to stave off bill collectors, only to find themselves deeper in debt than they ever had been. Medical bills were a close second to credit card bills as the cause of elderly bankruptcies.

The answer? It's different for everyone. Some seniors are putting off retirement, while others are looking to second jobs or help from family and friends. As the economy slowly recovers, as it will eventually, how this aged workforce will affect future generations' chances for economic stability remains to be seen.

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