78% of High-Income Women Spend Money on Their Own Medical Care

Independent research reveals that women have been underrepresented in many healthcare studies. PYMNTS Intelligence recently set out to dive more deeply into the subject of women and healthcare and identify disparities and contributing factors. We surveyed more than 10,000 U.S. consumers, asking a variety of healthcare-related questions and shared our findings in the first-ever 2024 Women’s Wellness Index

The report looked at healthcare-specific information, including factors such as the amount of money people invest in their household’s health as well as the time they devote to their own health and well-being. 

The Women’s Wellness Index combines factors holistically to evaluate health and wellness outcomes, with higher scores representing better outcomes. The resulting findings can be eye-opening. For example, women living alone have a 31-percentage point advantage in our index compared to moms in nuclear families; women living alone also earned a 20% higher index score on average than the average of all U.S. women in general. 

When it comes to healthcare spending, women spend 7.9% less on their own health than men do, the index found, which contributes to negative health impacts that can manifest later in life. 

Findings around consumer healthcare spending were used in formulating the chart below, which is based on exclusive PYMNTS Intelligence data that was not included in our recently released report. 

We looked at preventative healthcare spending habits for people in the upper income bracket (those earning $100,000 or more per year) and compared their spending habits to those in lower (less than $50,000 per year) income brackets. 

Seventy-eight percent of high-income women spend money on their own medical care during the last year, while only 70% of high-income earning men do the same. Meanwhile, preventative self-care does not make the budget for as many low-income consumers, as only about 57% of men and women earning less than $50,000 spend on their own health. 

Dental care spending follows a similar pattern, with larger shares of high-income women (69%) and high-income men (65%) investing in their own dental care than low-income men (39%) and low-income women (38%). 

Similarly, 43% of high-income women and 40% percent of high-income men spend money on diet and nutrition-related items last year, while less than 30% of low-income women and men do the same. And where 42% or high-income men spent money on exercise last year, only 17% of low-income men did. Meanwhile, nearly 40% of high-income women invested in exercise while 28% of low-income women did the same. 

This exclusive data confirms what many may already suspect: Annual earnings appear to play a major role in shaping healthcare choices, and that healthcare costs appear to be a barrier harming health outcomes, especially for low-income women and men.