medical costs, medical bills, women, health care woman sitting in a waiting room with file open on her lap woman sitting in a waiting room with file open on her lap woman sitting in a waiting room with file open on her lap woman sitting in a waiting room with file open on her lap
Your Money

Understand Your Finances

The truth about women when dealing with surprising medical costs

The financial resilience of families is critical for the health of the US economy. But for many families, an unexpected health emergency—and the costs associated with it—can cause economic hardships that are difficult to bounce back from.

One in six families makes an extraordinary medical payment in any given year. Often, their financial health worsens as a result, and they do not fully recover, even a year later. This is especially true for women.

Between 2013 and 2015, the JPMorgan Chase Institute looked at 210,000 anonymized Chase checking accounts and compared the financial outcomes of women versus men after an extraordinary medical payment.

Here are some key findings:

1. Most primary account holders were men, but low-income account holders were more likely to be women

Over the three-year period of study, accounts with female primary account holders had lower incomes, lower spending, lower liquid assets, and lower revolving credit card debt.

However, they also had higher debt relative to their income than accounts with male primary account holders.

graph indicated the dollar and perecentage difference between men and womes

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Monthly take-home: women = $3,176 while men = $4,134. A 23 percent difference Monthly spending: women = $3,606 while men = $4,536. A 21 percent difference. Liquid assets: women = $12,751 while men = $15,948. A -20 percent difference. Debit to burden relative to income: women = 0.9 months of income while men = 0.7 months. Revolving credit card debt levels: women = $2,743 while men = 2,876. A -5% discount. Difference between women and men in debt burden +2% months of income. Source JPMorgan Chase Institute

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2. There was a gender gap in financial outcomes

Women had roughly 20 percent lower levels of income, spending, and liquid assets, and slightly higher credit card debt than men after an unexpected medical payment.

3. Extraordinary medical payments represented a higher fraction of monthly take-home income for women than for men

Women were in a weaker financial position than men to withstand an extraordinary medical payment. They also had less ability to absorb such payments with their monthly income.

4. Before making an extraordinary medical payment, women would have an increase in liquid assets relative to men

This suggests that women were more likely than men to delay a medical payment until they were able to pay.

5. A year after the extraordinary medical payment, women were left with significantly more revolving credit card debt than men

Women ended up with more revolving credit card balance than men, despite the fact that they often had less before the medical payment.

You can read the entire report here.

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