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Living Close to the Edge: Financial Challenges and Tradeoffs for People on Medicare

As Congress and other policymakers weigh potentially major changes to the Medicare program as part of the deficit-reduction debate, this Kaiser Family Foundation report highlights the role Medicare now plays in the lives of beneficiaries and the challenges many face in paying for their health care and other living expenses on a fixed budget.

Based on detailed profiles of 16 Medicare families, the report examines beneficiaries’ incomes, retirement savings and routine expenses, including health care and insurance premiums, housing, transportation, food, gas and utilities. Half of the families profiled in the report have incomes below twice the federal poverty level – under $22,000 for an individual – the same share as in the total Medicare population.

A companion documentary video, “Making Ends Meet: The Medicare Generation,” highlights the experiences of three of the profiled families.

The report and video were released at a June 28, 2011, briefing focused on how Medicare reform options now under consideration might work and their implications for beneficiaries and taxpayers.

Report (.pdf)

Documentary: Making Ends Meet: The Medicare Generation

Webcast of June 28, 2011, briefing