Recent figures suggest that elderly Americans have come under increasing debt pressures during the past several years. The Employee Benefit Research Institute recently published an analysis of government information that studied death rates between 2007 and 2010. During that time, people age 75 and older increased their chances of falling under debt pressure.
While people in this age group are less likely to have debt than younger people, they have increased their chances of acquiring debt in recent years primarily due to unexpected medical expenses.
The study shows that between 2007 and 2010, the percentage of Americans age 75 and older who had any kind of debt at all rose from about 31% in 2007 to nearly 39% in 2010. Those seniors also saw a dramatic increase in the average amount of debt they held, from about $13,700 in 2007 to over $27,400 in 2010.
The study also showed the people between the ages of 55 and 75 either decreased the total amount of debt or had their chances of having debt remain steady during that same timeframe. Unfortunately, younger people have shown a significant difference in the way they acquire debt when compared to older generations. For younger people, it appears as if they acquire debt earlier, acquire more debt, and take longer to pay it off.
Study authors say that many of the elderly people who acquired debt between 2007 and 2010 did so because of costs associated with medical care. Even though Medicare and Medicaid paid for many expenses, there are still out-of-pocket expenses that can often impose significant hardships.