How Much Does the Average Senior Spend on Health Care?

Senior man lying in a hospital bed
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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
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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
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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

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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
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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

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