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 $6,668 a year on health care, according to the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics’ latest data on consumer spending, which is for 2020.
That translates to about 14% of all spending by senior households ($47,579) and makes health care the second-biggest spending category among those households. Only housing accounted for a bigger share of seniors’ spending in 2020, as we detail in “Here’s How Much Retiree Households Spend in a Year.”
By comparison, all U.S. households spend an average of $5,177 a year on health care, which translates to about 8.4% of spending across all households ($61,334).
Following is a detailed look at how senior households’ medical spending breaks down.
Average spending for a U.S. household led by someone age 65 or older: $4,854 per year
Average spending across all U.S. households: $3,667 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 $4,854 — around $400 a month — on insurance. That’s about 10% 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.
Average spending for a U.S. household led by someone age 65 or older: $835 per year
Average spending across all U.S. households: $864 per year
As defined by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, this type of health care expense includes a wide variety of care, such as:
- 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
Average spending for a U.S. household led by someone age 65 or older: $727 per year
Average spending across all U.S. households: $476 per year
Drug spending includes spending on prescription and nonprescription medications as well as vitamins.
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:
Average spending by a U.S. household led by someone age 65 or older: $251 per year
Average spending across all U.S. households: $170 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
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