It is known that Medicare plays a key role in the health and retirement security for older women but even so, there have been a lot of confusions about Medicare and how to get it.
Medicare is a federal program that funds health care for those over 65 years old. Over half of the individuals who have Medicare are women, and it’s more important than ever that women continue to utilize this program. On average, their life expectancy is higher than men and therefore the majority of women require healthcare longer. They also face more health concerns than most men, and having preventative care will go a long way to leading a healthy, long life.
Why is Medicare essential?
While Medicare is vital to all of our aging population, it’s especially crucial for women. According to the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, older women are almost two times as likely to receive government assistance. Keep reading as we break down the reasons why women, in particular, need Medicare to protect their health and wellness as they age.
1. Health Risks
Many people wrongly assume that because women live, on average, longer than men, they face fewer health risks. Even though modern health care gives people the ability to live longer than ever before, there are still many chronic conditions, risks, and diseases facing the population of women.
While breast cancer is a major threat to older women, it’s not the biggest threat. Heart disease accounts for 27% of all female deaths. That means it kills more women than all forms of cancer in the USA combined. While a healthy diet is the best way to keep heart disease from becoming a problem, so is early intervention. Medicare covers yearly physicals and makes it possible for women of all backgrounds to stay on top of their care.
Behind heart disease is cancer. The most common types of cancer facing women are lung cancer and breast cancer. Lifestyle choices like choosing not to smoke can prevent lung cancer, but breast cancer is often hereditary. Once again, early detection of cancer is key to preventing the growth of dangerous tumors. Mammograms are included under Medicare, and it’s just another way this program saves lives.
Finally, one of the most common problems facing older women is strokes. They are the leading cause of long-term disability in the USA, and women are more likely to have a stroke than men. Women need to recognize the potential signs of a stroke and know when to act. Medicare can help alleviate the costs of long-term care and treatment after a stroke.
As you can see from these conditions above, there are a lot of risks women face as they age. While steps can be taken to prevent certain cancers and degenerative conditions, much of it is out of individuals control. The most important thing women can do is stay proactive with their health with regular screenings, the right medication, and treatment when needed. Navigating the Healthcare Marketplace to find the best Medicare plan is the best way to stay healthy.
2. Financial Problems
Unfortunately, health risks aren’t the only problem for women approaching retirement years. The median income for women 75 and older is $13,000 less than that of older men. Minority women face even high gaps in income. These financial problems translate into big stress, and affordable health care is all but impossible without a program like Medicare.
What’s causing these financial problems? In part, it’s the employment system. Women, on average, receive lower pay over their lifetimes than men. That means there is less room for saving money and creating a solid retirement plan. In addition, employer-provided retirement plans have stopped becoming the norm, and many women are finding themselves without this safety net. It’s also common for women to take time off from employment to raise their kids, thus leading to even slimmer savings even in the case of an employer retirement fund.
As the average lifespan continues to grow, women find themselves needing to financially support their own health care for longer. Not only do they live longer, but they’re more likely to face greater expenses. This is an attack from all sides, and many women find themselves unable to keep up with the pressures. We also can’t forget that women are more likely to lose a partner due to death or even divorce as they age, and this makes their standard of living drop even further without extra money.
It’s important for us, as a society, to talk about women and healthcare as we continue to age. Medicare is a program that’s useful for both men and women, but it’s even more vital for women who face a range of problems that only grows as they reach their golden years. This is a conversation that needs to be started again and again to ensure women everywhere have access to safe, affordable health care in this country.