7 Things That Drive Up Your Health Care Costs

By Julie Appleby, Staff Writer, Kaiser Health News This story was produced in collaboration with PBS NewsHour There is no one villain in the battle against rising health care costs. Currently, the United States spends more on health care services than any other country, exceeding $2.6 trillion, or about 18 percent of gross domestic product. Most years, medical spending rises faster than inflation and the economy as a whole. Many factors – and nearly everyone – contributes to those increases. Here are …

Ready for a Permanent Vacation Abroad?

I’m just back from vacation in the U.S. Good for me, but not so good for friends who confided they are suddenly on “permanent” vacation. As in “laid off” and with no prospects in sight. They’re being forced to explore their options. Suddenly, I’d become very popular at cocktail parties and other gatherings. “Can you really live inexpensively outside the U.S.?” my friends asked. “What’s it like to live in a foreign country? Is it safe? Is there Internet? English-language …

Disturbing Trends in Kaiser Health Insurance Survey

Low-wage workers tend to pay more for less robust health insurance coverage, according to a new survey. For family health care plans, employees at lower-wage companies paid an average of $700 more per year, despite the typical policy for these workers being worth $1000 less than average.

Medicare Patients Spend Thousands Out of Pocket at End of Life

Using data from a national longitudinal survey, Mt. Sinai professor Amy Kelley looked at out-of-pocket medical costs near the end of life and uncovered some sobering statistics. A whopping 43 percent of Medicare patients end up spending more than the total value of their assets, excluding real estate, on end-of-life care, while 25 percent spent all their assets including including any money from home or property.

The Takeaway: Couples Need $240,000 For Health Care In Retirement

Oof. The latest estimate of an average American couple’s retirement health care costs is $240,000. The calculation, from Fidelity Investments, is based on a 65-year-old couple with Medicare coverage, and factors in things like premiums, co-pays, deductibles and out-of-pocket prescription drug costs. It doesn’t factor in things like long-term care, dental services, over-the-counter meds or hearing aids.

An Appendectomy Costs How Much? $1,500 to $182,000 Study Shows

It was a simple question: How much do hospitals charge to remove an appendix? The answer stunned researchers at the University of California, San Francisco. As the Associated Press reported, the researchers found that California hospitals charge anywhere from the price of a refrigerator to the cost of a house. For this common procedure, patient bills varied from as little as $1,529 to as much as $182,955, with an average of $33,000 — and experts worry that the situation isn’t …