We all know that seniors can face huge hits to their pocketbooks from health care costs. The Employee Benefits Research Institute quantified that on Monday with a report that nearly 20 percent of household income in old age goes to pay for health care.

The EBRI report, titled "Utilization Patterns and Out-of-Pocket Expenses for Different Health Care Services Among American Retirees" uses data from the Health and Retirement Study, the nation's most comprehensive study of older Americans.

According to the report, in 2011 the average out-of-pocket household cost of health care for seniors 85 and older was $6,603, constituting 19 percent of total household expenses. This is a full 8 percent higher than for those between the ages of 65 and 74, whose health care expenses were an average of $4,383 (11 percent of their total expenses).

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