A new study, led by a researcher at Ohio State University, is the first to contrast how health affects the wealth of elderly married couples versus single or widowed seniors.
Healthy people are 6 to 7 percent more likely not to lose a significant portion of their savings, the study showed.
Married folks are more likely to deplete their savings while paying for the onset of new chronic conditions, such as high blood pressure, diabetes, cancer, stroke, or arthritis. Most singles deplete their funds while paying for treatment of pre-existing chronic conditions.
Another finding: private, supplementary insurance can help take the sting out of health care costs for married couples. Couples with supplemental health insurance are 15 percent less likely to deplete more than a half of their wealth.
"It's very important to be aware of the potential costs of health care problems," said Jinkook Lee, professor of consumer and textile sciences at Ohio State. "Poor health is a physical and financial burden, and we should prepare for it."
Lee and coauthor Hyungsoo Kim of the University of Kentucky,
Lexington, examined data collected by the National Institute on Aging
for its Asset and Health Dyn
Contact: Jinkook Lee
Ohio State University