How Much Does the Average Senior Spend on Health Care?

Senior man lying in a hospital bed
Monkey Business Images / Shutterstock.com

Many major expenses only shrink once you retire, but health care is hardly one of them.

U.S. households led by someone who is 65 or older spend an average of $6,833 a year on health care, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ latest data on consumer spending, which is for 2019.

That translates to 13.6% of all spending by senior households and makes health care the third-biggest spending category among those households. Only housing and transportation account for bigger shares of seniors’ spending, as we detail in “Here’s How Much Retiree Households Spend in a Year.”

By comparison, all U.S. households spend an average of $5,193 a year on health care, which translates to 8.2% of spending across all households.

Following is a detailed look at how senior households’ medical spending breaks down.

Health insurance

Home health aide
Monkey Business Images / Shutterstock.com

Average spending for a U.S. household led by someone age 65 or older: $4,748 per year

Average spending across all U.S. households: $3,529 per year

Insurance is easily the largest health care expenditure for households of any age, but it’s highest for senior households. On average, they spend $4,748 — about $396 a month — on insurance. That’s 9.5% of their total spending.

As defined by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the expense of health insurance includes various types of insurance — including traditional fee-for-service health plans, HMOs and supplemental Medicare plans, for example.

Medical services

Older woman with doctor
Rocketclips, Inc / Shutterstock.com

Average spending for a U.S. household led by someone age 65 or older: $1,054 per year

Average spending across all U.S. households: $984 per year

As defined by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, this type of health care expense includes a wide variety of care, including:

  • Hospital room and services
  • Services from physicians and other professionals
  • Eye and dental care
  • Lab tests and X-rays
  • Medical care in a retirement community
  • Care in a convalescent or nursing home

Drugs

Burlingham / Shutterstock.com

Average spending for a U.S. household led by someone age 65 or older: $737 per year

Average spending across all U.S. households: $486 per year

Drug spending includes spending on prescription and nonprescription medications as well as vitamins.

While senior households are spending about $61 a month on drugs alone, there are numerous ways anyone can cut their drug costs — including some ways you might not realize exist.

Money Talks News has covered the topic extensively. See for example:

Medical supplies

Nursing Home
Photographee.eu / Shutterstock.com

Average spending by a U.S. household led by someone age 65 or older: $293 per year

Average spending across all U.S. households: $194 per year

This type of spending covers:

  • A variety of supplies, including dressings, antiseptics, bandages, first aid kits, syringes, ice bags, thermometers, sun lamps and heating pads
  • Medical appliances — such as braces, canes, crutches, walkers, eyeglasses and hearing aids
  • Rental and repair of medical equipment

Disclosure: The information you read here is always objective. However, we sometimes receive compensation when you click links within our stories.

Read Next
7 Bank Accounts With Extra Perks for Seniors
7 Bank Accounts With Extra Perks for Seniors

These accounts offer exclusive discounts and other perks — including interest — to older customers.

7 Effortless Ways to Make Extra Money
7 Effortless Ways to Make Extra Money

In the digital age, new ways of earning cash crop up all the time — and some require next to no effort on your part.

13 Brilliant Bulk-Buy Items on Amazon
13 Brilliant Bulk-Buy Items on Amazon

Every household should have these products on hand. Buying them in bulk on Amazon saves you cash.

The 3 Worst Money Mistakes You Are Making at the Gas Station
The 3 Worst Money Mistakes You Are Making at the Gas Station

Beware these cash-guzzling missteps when you stop at any gas station.

10 Things That Can Ding Your Social Security Payments
10 Things That Can Ding Your Social Security Payments

Here are 10 things that could mean less money in your pocket during retirement.

View this page without ads

Help us produce more money-saving articles and videos by subscribing to a membership.

Get Started

Most Popular
7 Kirkland Signature Items to Avoid at Costco
7 Kirkland Signature Items to Avoid at Costco

Even if it seems you save a bundle buying Costco’s Kirkland Signature brand products, they may not be the bargain they appear to be.

How to Buy Gas At Costco Without a Membership
How to Buy Gas At Costco Without a Membership

The warehouse club often has some of the cheapest gas in town. Here’s how you can get it as a nonmember.

10 Things to Stop Buying If You Want a Clutter-Free Home
10 Things to Stop Buying If You Want a Clutter-Free Home

If you like to keep things simple, avoid these purchases.

If You Find This Thrift Shopping, Buy It
If You Find This Thrift Shopping, Buy It

Vacuums from this brand can last a half-century, if not longer — and they’re hot on the resale market.

A Simple Way to Silence Robocalls Today
A Simple Way to Silence Robocalls Today

A few steps can keep your phone from ringing when a spammer calls.

This Company Makes the Best Tires in America
This Company Makes the Best Tires in America

Driver satisfaction with tires is at an all-time high, but one brand stands out.

Can I Switch to Spousal Social Security Benefits When My Ex Dies?
Can I Switch to Spousal Social Security Benefits When My Ex Dies?

Knowing when to claim can help you maximize benefits.

36 Things That Will Be Obsolete Soon
36 Things That Will Be Obsolete Soon

The writing is on the wall for dozens of things we have grown up with.

17 Surprising Things You Can Sell for Extra Money
17 Surprising Things You Can Sell for Extra Money

You probably don’t realize these items are worth decent cash.

8 Things You Should Always Buy on Amazon
8 Things You Should Always Buy on Amazon

The giant retailer shines when it comes to these things, from basics to hard-to-find specialty goods.

This Health Issue Can Hint at Dementia Years in Advance
This Health Issue Can Hint at Dementia Years in Advance

One type of pain is especially associated with cognitive decline.

8 Federal Income Tax Breaks for Homeowners
8 Federal Income Tax Breaks for Homeowners

Some of these deductions and credits are available to a wide swath of homeowners.

3 Ways to Get Microsoft Office for Free
3 Ways to Get Microsoft Office for Free

With a little ingenuity, you can cut Office costs to zero.

5 Ways to Get Amazon Prime for Free
5 Ways to Get Amazon Prime for Free

Hesitant to drop $119 a year on an Amazon Prime membership? Here’s how to get it for free.

5 Ways to Fill Your Pantry With Free Food
5 Ways to Fill Your Pantry With Free Food

Anyone can take advantage of these resources.

9 Things You’ll Never See at Costco Again
9 Things You’ll Never See at Costco Again

The warehouse store offers an enormous selection, but these products aren’t coming back.

10 Types of Retirement Income That Are Not Taxable
10 Types of Retirement Income That Are Not Taxable

There are lots of things Uncle Sam can’t touch — so long as you play by the rules.

6 Reasons You Should Stop Hiding Cash at Home
6 Reasons You Should Stop Hiding Cash at Home

Stashing money around the house is anything but harmless.

These 5 States Are the Most Expensive Places to Retire
These 5 States Are the Most Expensive Places to Retire

If you expect to have modest retirement income, you may want to avoid spending your golden years here.

View More Articles

View this page without ads

Help us produce more money-saving articles and videos by subscribing to a membership.

Get Started

Add a Comment

Our Policy: We welcome relevant and respectful comments in order to foster healthy and informative discussions. All other comments may be removed. Comments with links are automatically held for moderation.