Having enough extra funds on hand to manage health needs is a major worry for most Americans. A study from KFF, a health policy research organization, shows that nearly three in four adults are concerned about medical costs.

This financial worry is particularly acute for women. According to a recent analysis from Deloitte Consulting, women collectively spend $15.4 billion more on out-of-pocket medical expenses annually compared to their male coworkers. One reason for this is that while women’s annual exams are often fully covered, the follow-ups that can result from those visits can incur copays and trigger deductibles. Many of those services are often more expensive than the typical deductible, leading to a higher overall cost. And, the demand for medical treatment specific to women is growing.

Expensive medical needs unique to women

Pew Research Center‡ reports 42% of adults in the U.S. have used fertility treatments such as egg freezing or in-vitro fertilization (IVF), which range in cost from $15,000 to $30,000 per cycle. Insurance companies have increasingly stepped in to help cover these costs, but many women are still left to pay some or all of these bills out of pocket.

Another medical event unique to women is menopause, which is among the female health conditions with the highest unmet need and has “enormous potential for innovative treatments,” according to a McKinsey report‡. Health challenges caused by menopause are also costly. A Mayo Clinic study‡ on the impacts of menopause in the workplace estimates $1.8 billion in lost work time per year and $26.6 billion annually when medical expenses are added, in the U.S. alone. Similar to fertility treatments, while insurance companies are providing more coverage for menopause management, many women must cover these costs on their own.

Pregnancy and postpartum medical needs are supported through most insurance policies, yet remain expensive with the average cost of giving birth, including pregnancy, delivery and postpartum care, costing $18,865, according to the Peterson-Kaiser Family Foundation Health System Tracker‡. The average out-of-pocket cost for childbirth even with health insurance is $2,854.

In addition, given that women have longer life expectancies than men, their lifetime healthcare expenses are, on average, 33% higher than men’s.

Leverage an HSA to cover medical care

All of these distinct medical needs require dedicated financial planning. A health savings account (HSA) can play an important role in helping to plan, save and afford medical care. An HSA is a spending and savings option available for those enrolled in a high-deductible health plan, and can help pay for qualified medical expenses, many of which fall under needs specific to women, such as:

  • Birth control and other contraceptives
  • Fertility tracking monitors
  • Pregnancy tests
  • IVF medication and medical consultations
  • Doula and midwife services
  • Prenatal supplements
  • Labor and delivery
  • Breastfeeding supplies
  • Postpartum mental health therapy
  • Lactation consultants
  • Hormone replacement therapy

An HSA is a particularly advantageous way to save for healthcare costs and make payments as they arise, as it offers triple tax[1] benefits:

  • Money goes into the account tax-free
  • Money earns tax-free interest1
  • Investment[2] earnings and money is disbursed from your account tax-free1, when used for eligible expenses

For 2024, if you have self-only coverage you can contribute up to $4,150 to your HSA, or for family coverage, you can contribute up to $8,300. While $4,150 may seem like a mere drop in the bucket when considering a $20,000 medical bill, don’t forget about the money your HSA is allowing you to keep by reducing your taxable income, making withdrawals tax-free when used for eligible expenses.

While medical costs can be overwhelming for anyone, they can seem particularly daunting for women, given the long list of needs that are female-specific, costly and often not covered by insurance. Knowing how to manage your wealth to pay for your health, such as utilizing an HSA, can empower you to take more control of your money and medical needs.

Learn more about UMB Healthcare Services and how we can help with benefit spending and saving accounts Read more about the state of the industry at 2022 Devenir Mid-year HSA Market Statistics & Trends Report.

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[1] All mention of taxes is made in reference to federal tax law. Neither UMB Bank n.a., nor its parent, subsidiaries, or affiliates are engaged in rendering tax or legal advice and this document is not intended as tax or legal advice.

[2] Investments are securities