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Women aged 25 and older are concerned about whether they will be able to afford future health costs and retirement, according to the results of a survey by the National Council on Aging and Women’s Institute for a Secure Retirement, or WISER.

The research sampled 1,022 women for a second annual report titled “What Women Say.” This research was conducted online March 2-13, 2024 by Public Opinion Strategies and Lake Research Partners.

“Health and financial security are the bedrocks of a good quality of life — regardless of age,” NCOA President and CEO Ramsey Alwin said in a statement. “It’s troubling to hear that women across the lifespan — especially those with lower incomes — continue to struggle, making it extremely difficult for them to prepare for retirement. We must do more to ensure every woman has the resources to age well.”

According to the report, fewer women feel financially secure now than compared to the results of last year’s report. Additionally, as they work on saving for retirement, the cost of housing and cuts to Medicare and Social Security are top concerns.

Less than half of the women surveyed, and just one-third of rural women responding, said that they have not saved enough for retirement. About one-third of all of the survey participants, and half of low-income respondents, said that their retirement income or savings will not be enough to pay their monthly bills. This amount is an increase from last year’s survey results.

Among federal policies asked about in the survey, across party and demographic lines, most women indicated that they are in favor of the government providing assistance to low-income adults, improving Medicare and Medicaid to cover home care, and expanding Medicare to cover a full range of treatments for chronic diseases.

Approximately one in three respondents reported that, in that past year, they have experienced delays in access to healthcare or food insecurity issues; one in five said they have seen delays in filling prescription medicines.

“Nearly 6 in 10 (59%) women and 81% of low-income women told us they do not make enough money right now to save for retirement,” said Bill McInturff, partner at Public Opinion Strategies. “Food insecurity also is a reality for about half of low-income Hispanic and white women. These facts directly impact a woman’s ability to plan and save for retirement.”

Cindy Hounsel, president of WISER, said that ways exist to help women feel more secure in their retirement plans. 

“We can remove the barriers and improve the safety net that so many low- and moderate-income women depend on. We can increase access to retirement plans and provide outreach and information to help women improve their financial decision-making,” Hounsel said. “Clearly, we must begin to make the future more secure for women of all ages and incomes.”