Financial troubles among seniors may impact consumer sector

It's not secret that healthcare costs are high. What's troubling is that they continue to soar, racking employer payrolls and consumer budgets in their wake.

It's not secret that healthcare costs are high. What's troubling is that they continue to soar, racking employer payrolls and consumer budgets in their wake. While poor public health accounts for a large portion of overall health expenditures, senior citizens are also driving up costs, and the result is forcing financial troubles upon older Americans.

New poverty figures released this week by the Census Bureau shows Medicare households in 2009 spent three times more of their household budget on health expenses than non-Medicare households.

"Broken down by groups, Americans 65 or older sustained the largest increase in poverty under the revised formula - nearly doubling to 15.9 percent, or 1 in 6 - because of medical expenses that are not accounted for in the official rate," The Associated Press reports. "Those include rising Medicare premiums, deductibles and expense for prescription drugs."

Meanwhile, healthcare costs are expected to rise in coming years, forcing employers to ask for greater contributions from their workers. How this affects consumer activity remains to be seen, but with conditions as tight as they are it's difficult to see how it would not harm it.