Last week, the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) released a brief with updated income and asset information and projections for people with Medicare. KFF regularly publishes this information to provide “context for understanding the extent to which the current and future generations of beneficiaries can afford to absorb higher health care costs.”
Importantly, the brief shows that while incomes are increasing for people with Medicare, most of the gains are in the top five percent. In 2016, half of all Medicare beneficiaries still had incomes below $26,200, with a quarter falling below $15,250. These figures account for income from all sources, including Social Security, pensions, earnings, assets, rental income, and retirement accounts.
There are racial differences in the median incomes. Half of all white beneficiaries had incomes below $30,050, while half of black beneficiaries had incomes below $17,350, and half of Hispanic beneficiaries were below $13,650. Incomes also vary by education level, marital status, and age. For example, over half of the people with Medicare who were 85 or older had incomes less than $20,400 for the year, and half of people who receive Medicare because of permanent disability while under 65 live on less than $17,950.
Many people with Medicare had some savings and some home equity. For savings, eight percent had none or were in debt. Half of all beneficiaries had savings below $74,450 and a quarter had below $14,550.
The brief also projects these numbers into the future. For income, it projects that much of the growth is likely to be concentrated among the top earners. Likewise, gains in savings and home equity are projected to largely benefit those in upper income brackets.