NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Death's Price Tag

August 6, 2002

Dying can be rather expensive, according to a new study by the National Center for Policy Analysis (NCPA). A senior near the time of death can generate more than $50,000 in medical, funeral and burial costs.

Taxpayers pick up much of the bill for end-of-life care:

  • Medicare and Medicaid pick up an estimated 65 percent of the cost.
  • Medicare alone spends about $28,616 on average, on medical bills for seniors in the last two years of life.
  • The deceased and their families can expect out-of-pocket medical expenses of $5,723.

Adding to the expense of dying are funeral costs:

  • According to the American Association of Retired Persons, a funeral and burial is the third-most expensive purchase an older adult will make, following a home and an automobile.
  • According to the National Funeral Directors Association, the average cost of a funeral runs about $6,130, while burials can cost at least $2,000.

NCPA President John C. Goodman says these costs represent a huge public policy dilemma as more and more baby boomers require medical care in the coming years.

Source: Patricia V. Rivera, "The burden of death: Expenses can be heavy," Dallas Morning News, August 5, 2002, based on John C. Goodman, "The Cost of Dying," Brief Analysis No. 408, July 21, 2002, NCPA.


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