US Elderly Skimp on Food, Clothes to Pay for Health Care

< 1 min
June 15, 2022

By Sri Taylor

June 15, 2022

Older Americans are sacrificing basic necessities to afford costly health services, according to a survey that shows how many elderly people cut personal expenses to take care of medical needs. 

Out-of-pocket health costs for elders in the US rose 41% from 2009 to 2019, according to findings from analytics firm Gallup Inc. and West Health, a nonprofit that focuses on senior care. About 9% of Americans 65 and older spent less on food, 6% cut spending on utilities and 19% trimmed clothing expenditures to help cover health costs, according to the survey. 

The US population of people ages 65 and older will reach 77 million people by 2034, rising from about 52 million today according to the US Census. The ongoing surge threatens to exacerbate hardships for the elderly, who are already struggling to afford services.

Elders are also forgoing vital medical needs: 12% of those surveyed said they or a family member refrained from seeking treatment for a health issue because of cost. About 11% of the skipped picking up prescribed medicines to save cash. 

More than a third of elders said they were worried about their ability to pay for care in the coming year. Nearly half of Americans ages 50 through 64, who aren’t eligible for the US Medicare health program for the elderly, shared the same concerns.