How Much Does It Cost To Die?

More Than $50,000 for the Average Senior, According to NCPA

Cost of Dying

DALLAS (August 06, 2002) -- Senior citizens near the time of their death can expect to generate more than $50,000 in medical, funeral and burial costs, according to new figures ( released today by the National Center for Policy Analysis (NCPA).

The good news for the deceased and their families is the government will pick up about 65 percent of the cost through subsidized programs such as Medicare and Medicaid. But that may be bad news for taxpayers who fund the programs. In just a few years, when baby boomers begin to retire, NCPA research shows the cost of dying will soar.


It's a lot more expensive to leave this world than to enter it," said NCPA President John C. Goodman. "The reason people aren't more aware of the expense is because most of it is hidden." According to the NCPA:

  • Medicare averages spending $28,616 on medical bills for seniors in the last two years of life.
  • Medical costs paid by Medicaid and private insurance average $4,006 and $3,720, respectively.
  • The deceased and their families can expect out-of-pocket medical expenses of $5,723.
  • Funeral and burial expenses average another $8,000.

Cost of Dying Table

A related NCPA study on Medicare costs near the end of life was produced by economists with the Private Enterprise Research Center (PERC) at Texas A&M University, which concludes:

One-third of all Medicare dollars annually are spent on patients in the last two years of life.

Real Medicare costs in the last two years of life have been rising over time, from $8,800 in 1975 to more than $28,000 today.

However, the average amount that Medicare spends on those in the last two years of life has not risen faster than the average amount spent on the other 90 percent of beneficiaries.

"Medicare spending by beneficiaries in the last two years of life dwarfs spending by other beneficiaries," said Andrew Rettenmaier, Executive Associate Director of PERC and co-author of the NCPA study. "But these costs do not appear to be rising relative to the spending of surviving beneficiaries."