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June 29, 2023
Women are significantly more concerned than men about the rising costs of healthcare in retirement, not surprising given that women, on average, live longer.
However, they often face financial disparities throughout their employment, lower lifetime earnings, reduced retirement savings and higher healthcare costs than their male counterparts. While retirement is a phase many people look forward to, it can also bring unforeseen challenges, especially when someone faces significant medical needs for themselves or their partners. When it comes to retired women, who often have unique financial circumstances, it is crucial for financial advisors to be proactive and prepared—engaging these women in proactive discussions about strategies that can protect them from financial ruin and ensure their peace of mind about healthcare spending. These conversations should encompass health conditions and family health histories and address the realities of aging and declining health.
According to a report by the Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI), women spend more on healthcare in retirement than men. To ensure they have sufficient money to cover healthcare expenses in retirement, women planning to retire in 2021 should have saved $193,000. Compared with men of the same age, women need nearly $21,000 more when entering retirement. This discrepancy is primarily due to women’s longer life expectancy and their higher likelihood of experiencing chronic health conditions such as arthritis, osteoporosis and dementia. Furthermore, women are more prone to need long-term care, which can be financially devastating without proper planning.
Unfortunately, many consumers lack sufficient knowledge about the challenges of health deterioration and the expenses associated with healthcare, particularly end-of-life care. A 2020 study by the American College of Financial Services surveyed 1,500 individuals aged 50 to 75 to assess their knowledge about finances in retirement. The study found that fewer than one in five female respondents realized that 70% of the population will need long-term care at some point in their lives. The majority underestimated this reality, with approximately one in three female respondents believing that the percentage at risk is 25% or lower. This lack of knowledge likely contributes to the fact that only 8% of female consumers believe it is very likely they will require long-term care in their lifetime.