Meeting Women’s Economic Needs Can Improve Healthcare

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Health is wealth, in more ways than one. That’s because disparities in healthcare spending between patients are highly correlated to disparities in health outcomes.

And, due to the historical underrepresentation and undertreatment of women in various healthcare specialties, the situation is particularly exacerbated when viewed through the lens of gender. 

The ongoing underinvestment in women’s health is not a new trend, but the consequences are becoming increasingly dire. 

“Women are spending less than men on healthcare, and report that financial constraints are a main barrier for them when accessing the care that they want and need,” Erin Gadhavi, senior vice president, general manager, wellness, Synchrony, told PYMNTS.

“Women are the CEOs of their households, and they’re not prioritizing their own health as a result. As their responsibilities in the household have grown, their health has worsened,” Gadhavi said.

This lack of prioritization is due in part to a lack of time, with over a quarter (26%) of women citing work commitments as a significant obstacle to managing their personal health and wellness.

“Women, especially mothers, hold an abundance of roles and responsibilities, leading them to deprioritize their own health and wellness,” Gadhavi said. 

That’s why proactively supporting the health and well-being needs of women requires taking steps to address the complex interplay of economic factors and societal roles that serve as a backdrop to women’s health realities. 

Read more: Women’s Life Stage Priorities in Health and Wellness

Overcoming Incumbent Obstacles to Women’s Health and Wellness 

The primary obstacles to women prioritizing their own health and wellness are rooted in financial constraints and limited time. Despite frequently contributing equally, or even being the sole financial breadwinners in their households, women spend significantly more time on household responsibilities and caregiving, leaving less time for taking care of their own health and wellness. 

This imbalance is further compounded by societal norms and gender roles, which dictate that women should prioritize the health and wellness of other household members over their own, Gadhavi said.

“Preventative healthcare is often on the chopping block for women when they’re making decisions about their time,” she said. “And preventative healthcare is essential to promoting long-term health. If women are foregoing preventative healthcare, they’re increasing their overall health risks.”

Gadhavi underscored that this situation is particularly exacerbated for mothers, who are even less likely than other women to seek regular medical care for themselves. Just 71% of moms get preventative medical care, and around one-quarter do not seek care at all for themselves.

Addressing these issues requires a concerted effort from all sectors of society to ensure that women can prioritize their health and wellness without facing financial constraints or time limitations.

Spending on Healthcare Correlates With Improved Health and Wellness

As the adage goes, throwing money at a problem doesn’t necessarily make it go away. But when it comes to healthcare, that adage might need to be reconsidered. 

That’s because, as Gadhavi noted, PYMNTS Intelligence has found that every additional $500 spent on women’s health results in a positive effect of their overall wellbeing. Higher income brackets correlate with better health attentiveness, highlighting the role of financial stability in accessing healthcare services. 

“When you think about elective wellness expenditures, they are all out of pocket. Financial constraint is a real barrier for many as they’re thinking about their own personal health and wellbeing,” Gadhavi said.

“Providers play a crucial role in helping women pay for and manage their household healthcare costs. It’s really important for providers to educate patients about saving for healthcare expenses, and the available financing options to pay for care,” she added. 

She highlighted two other key strategies for addressing the ongoing imbalance when it comes to women’s health and wellness, emphasizing that health insurance and third-party financing options, such as CareCredit, which offer flexible solutions to manage out-of-pocket expenses, have a starring role to play.

Gadhavi also said that because we know time and finances are the key reasons women aren’t getting the care they want or need, employers can support women’s health by providing comprehensive wellness programs, resources and flexible work arrangements. 

Ultimately, addressing financial constraints and time limitations is paramount in ensuring equitable access to healthcare for women. By implementing targeted strategies and fostering supportive environments, women can be empowered to prioritize their health and well-being, leading to better long-term health outcomes for individuals and families alike.


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