The Nuances to Women's Healthcare Costs and How It Impacts Financial Plans

Christine Simone
May 2, 2024

May is Women’s Health Month, so in recognition of that, this blog is going to dive into the nuances of women’s healthcare costs and how that impacts their financial plans. 

Unsurprisingly, women spend more than men on healthcare costs over their lifetime. The Peterson-KFF Health System Tracker found that health spending during women’s reproductive years (ages 19 to 44) is much higher compared to men in that age cohort. In 2021, average annual health spending for women aged 19-34 was $5,227, more than double men’s spending in the same age range, at $2,601. 

This is largely in part due to costs associated with pregnancy and childbirth, but healthcare costs don’t go down after a woman’s reproductive years. In fact, for women and men, healthcare costs increase as they get older. This is because aging is typically accompanied by healthcare conditions. The Peterson-KFF Health System Tracker shows that women’s healthcare costs more than double to $10,632 once they’re in the 55 to 64 age range.

This is especially problematic when you consider that women typically have less in earnings to cover these costs. The average annual Social Security income received by women aged 65 and older was just 78% of that received by men. This is due to lower earnings, which also means that women are able to save less through employer-sponsored retirement plans and their own retirement accounts. Once women reach the age of 65+, they face the highest healthcare costs thus far in their lives (nearly $14,000), and most likely have a fixed income.

With higher healthcare expenses for a large portion of their life and less income, it’s no wonder that 65% of women reported feeling anxious about their finances, compared to 54% of men.

It’s not all doom and gloom though. Knowing the nuances of women’s healthcare costs and the financial hurdles they face allows advisors to address these unique challenges to create a more personalized and comprehensive financial plan.

So what can you, the financial advisor, do to improve the financial and physical wellness of your female clients? Let’s discuss it.

Longer Life Spans

Women, on average, live longer than men by 5.9 years and have an average life expectancy of 79. However, other reports show that half of all women who become widowed in the U.S. are under the age of 59, meaning that many of these women find themselves the sole financial decision-makers for at least two decades. Can you guess how many of these women stick with the same financial advisor during those years of widowhood? Two out of ten. 

Studies show that 80% of widows leave their advisors within the first two years of becoming a widow. Why? Many reports say it’s because of “unsatisfactory advisor communication.” Maintaining good communication and a relationship with both partners in a heterosexual marriage will help ensure that if either one of them becomes widowed, the surviving partner (often the woman) will stay with you.


As stated above, women live longer than men by an average of 5.9 years. A longer life span coupled with less earnings could spell trouble if you and your client aren’t prepared. As a financial advisor, one way you can ensure that your female clients have enough funds for retirement is to not use general estimates. Look at each client’s specific needs and goals; and if you don’t know their needs and goals, make that priority number one. The older you get, the faster your health needs may change, so it’s especially important to revisit this topic annually with your female clientele.

Opportunity: You and your female clients can use their longevity to the benefit of their financial plans. Since women live longer, they have longer to let their investments grow. This is an especially important strategy to use since women spend more on healthcare and caregiving, and often earn less than men. To have enough saved for retirement and to reach their financial goals despite these hurdles, women need to invest early.

For married, heterosexual couples, make sure to engage with both partners. If you consistently defer to the man in the relationship, you could be part of the 80% of advisors who lose a client once she becomes widowed.

Women’s Health & Wellness

Women spend more on healthcare costs during a large portion of their lives. And that’s just on themselves — those stats don’t even include the cost of caregiving, which also often falls on women.

A 2021 Deloitte study found that:

“...women across all age groups from 19 to 64 experience disproportionately higher out-of-pocket medical expenses compared to men, even when excluding pregnancy-related services.”

Outside of gender, healthcare costs account for 15% of one’s assets during retirement (an average of $315,000) and are the third-highest area of spending in retirement. Including healthcare costs into the financial plan can be challenging, but a great way to ease into it is by discussing their health plan options with them as they experience new life events. As your female clients near the age of 65, you can talk to them about their Medicare coverage options and help them analyze what the optimal choice is for them based on their budget, goals, and health needs. If your client is retiring before 65, that’s another great opportunity to plan for healthcare costs.

Opportunity: Offering healthcare planning as part of your comprehensive financial planning offering is an excellent way to help your female clients (and yourself) plan for healthcare costs, find the optimal insurance for their needs and goals, and bring healthcare topics into your conversations. Additionally, there’s an opportunity for you to deepen your advisor-client relationship with women when you offer healthcare planning to support women’s financial and physical wellness; rather than simply telling your client what you recommend, explain why you’re recommending certain strategies. This can help create a deeper sense of trust and understanding between you and your client, but it can also improve the overall success of the financial plan if you’re both on the same page. 

You can also encourage financial and healthcare education by offering webinars and blogs to serve as learning resources for clients. Engaging your female clients in these efforts will make them feel like you’re looking out for them specifically. This, in turn, could help reduce the anxiety the majority of women feel about their finances and healthcare costs.

Final Thoughts

By tailoring women’s financial plans to the specific challenges and opportunities they face, you’ll create a more accurate and comprehensive financial plan and improve the advisor-client relationship. 

Aside from investments, incorporating healthcare costs creates a more accurate financial plan to set clients up for success. Additionally, if you’re intentional about how you communicate and collaborate with female clients, you will see an increase in retention. One report showed that 40% of women (versus 30% of men) are likely to follow their financial advisor to another firm if they’re happy with their advisor. Similarly, 70% of women are likely to recommend their financial advisor to a friend or relative.

If you embrace holistic and comprehensive financial planning, you have a fiduciary duty to take every part of your client’s life and well-being into consideration when creating their financial plan. And since women have unique challenges and opportunities to their wealth and health, that needs to be considered to protect their retirement assets and overall well-being.

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