3 Big Ideas: A Sneak Peek at the Women’s Wellness Index Report

woman with doctor

Women are feeling the economic toll that healthcare bills exact, and for those without a financial safety net to fall back on, this burden can have a real impact on their well-being.

The upcoming “2024 Women’s Wellness Index” report, a collaboration between PYMNTS Intelligence and CareCredit, a Synchrony solution, draws from a census-balanced survey of more than 10,000 United States consumers late last year. The study provides insights into their health and wellness as well as the resources needed to support women’s overall well-being.

Sure enough, those medical bills are having a real impact on women’s health outcomes.

Women Disproportionately Burdened by Medical Bills

Certainly, healthcare bills can be a significant strain on anyone’s budget, but the Index reveals that this burden disproportionately falls on women’s shoulders.

The data revealed that 15% of women living paycheck to paycheck cite medical bills as a primary reason for their financial strain, compared to only 12% of men. This disparity underscores the gendered nature of economic vulnerability in relation to healthcare expenses.

The situation is even more pronounced among consumers struggling to pay their monthly bills. In this group, 23% of women report that medical bills are a major factor in their financial difficulties, whereas the figure for men is a significantly lower 18%. These statistics highlight a troubling trend: women, more than men, are disproportionately impacted by healthcare costs, which exacerbates their financial instability.

Financially Unstable Women Get Less Medical Care

This financial instability directly translates to the amount of care they are able to receive — after all, when someone knows that seeking further treatment is going to bury them in unpayable bills, they are unlikely to do so unless it is of the utmost necessity.

In fact, the study found, women who live paycheck to paycheck with issues paying their monthly bills are twice as likely as those who are financially stable and saving up more money each month to not have seen a doctor in the last year. Plus, they are 2.6 times more likely to only seek medical care if it is already an emergency.

The implications of these findings are far-reaching. Delayed or avoided medical care can lead to the progression of preventable diseases, reduced quality of life, and increased long-term healthcare costs. Moreover, the stress associated with financial instability and untreated health issues may further compound women’s health challenges, creating a vicious cycle of worsening health and financial hardship.

The Care Gap Takes a Toll on Women’s Health

The data show just that: financially unstable women see worse health outcomes.

The study revealed that women who live paycheck to paycheck and struggle with monthly expenses scored 13% worse on the Women’s Wellness Index than the average woman, where lower scores reveal a greater likelihood of negative health outcomes. In contrast, those who are financially stable and saving scored 9% higher than average.

And all this is only the beginning. To really dig into the links between financial lifestyles, women’s medical care, health outcomes and much more, keep an eye out for the report on Wednesday (July 3).