Women approaching retirement face financial insecurity over healthcare and drug costs

“Those results underscore the reality of an uneven playing field for women in the American economy and the economic opportunity cost after years as mothers and caregivers and not wage-earners.”


More than half of Americans over the age of 60 are concerned about health care costs and prescription drug prices affecting their financial security in retirement, says a new national survey.

The new National Council on Aging (NCOA)/Ipsos survey polled 1227 adults over age 60 between the dates of May 29, 2019 and June 14, 2019.56% of respondents said they were concerned about health care costs and 43 percent are concerned about drug prices. What’s more, women are even more concerned with men about the impact these costs have on their retirement and on their families.

Women were significantly more concerned than men when it came to health care costs exceeding their retirement income, losing their independence, outliving their savings, becoming a burden to family or others, prescription drug costs exceeding their retirement income, paying their bills, where they will live in the future, their mental health, and loneliness. In the areas of losing independence, paying bills, and becoming a burden, the difference between men and women exceeds 10 percentage points.

Women were also more likely than men (76% to 65%) to rate financial security as very important.

“All too often, older women are feeling the very real consequences of the income gap during retirement. After careers of earning less than their male counterparts, women are more likely to face financial insecurity, and this survey shows widespread concern among women, far more than men,” said Anna Maria Chávez, NCOA Executive Vice President and Chief Growth Officer.

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The United States currently pays the highest prices in the world for prescription drugs. US prices for the world’s 20 top-selling medicines are three times higher, on average than comparable countries like Great Britain. Because the US leaves drug pricing to market competition, we have higher prices than countries that allow their governments to directly or indirectly control pharmaceutical costs.

“Those results underscore the reality of an uneven playing field for women in the American economy and the economic opportunity cost after years as mothers and caregivers and not wage-earners. However, the ever-rising cost of health care and prescription drugs are a real and imminent threat to a safe, secure, and dignified retirement for aging adults across the country regardless of gender. Those on fixed incomes are even more worried,” added Chávez.

The findings of the survey will be presented at the NCOA’s Age+Action Conference this week in Washington, DC. The conference will focus on “ensuring every person’s right to age with their best possible health and economic security.”



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