“How Does Household Expenditure Change With Age for Older Americans?” and “2014 Health and Voluntary Workplace Benefits Survey: Most Workers Continue to be Satisfied With Their Own Health Plan, but Growing Number Give Low Ratings to Health Care System”

September 2014, Vol. 35, No. 9
Paperback, 20 pp.
PDF, 934 kb
Employee Benefit Research Institute, 2014

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Executive Summary

How Does Household Expenditure Change With Age for Older Americans?



  • Home and home-related expenses is the largest spending category for every age group. Health expenses increase steadily with age. In 2011, households with at least one member between ages 50 and 64 spent 8 percent of their total budget on health items, compared with 19 percent for those age 85 or over. Health-related expenses occupy the second-largest share of total expenditure for those ages 75 or older.
  • The two components of household expenditures that show a declining pattern across age groups are transportation expenses and entertainment expenses. Food and clothing expenses (as a share of total expenditure) remain more or less flat across the different age groups.
  • There is a large increase in spending at the 95th percentile for those ages 90 or older, which can be attributed to very high health care expenses.

2014 Health and Voluntary Workplace Benefits Survey: Most Workers Continue to be Satisfied With Their Own Health Plan, but Growing Number Give Low Ratings to Health Care System



  • Asked to rate the U.S. health care system, many workers describe it as poor (29 percent) or fair (32 percent). One-quarter consider it good, while only a small minority rate it as very good (10 percent) or excellent (1 per-cent). Dissatisfaction with the health care system appears to be focused primarily on cost.
  • The 2013–2014 EBRI/Greenwald & Associates Workplace Benefits Survey (WBS) and the 1998–2012 EBRI/ Greenwald & Associates Health Confidence Survey (HCS) find that the percentage of workers rating the health care system as poor more than doubled between 1998?2006 (rising from 14 percent to 32 percent); however, while between 2006?2013 that percentage fell slightly, it jumped to 29 percent in 2014.
  • In contrast to the ratings for the health care system overall, workers’ ratings of their own health plans continue to be generally favorable. One-half of those with health insurance coverage are extremely or very satisfied.
  • While 47 percent of workers indicate they are extremely or very confident about their ability to get the treatments they need today, only 30 percent are confident about their ability to get needed treatments during the next 10 years, and just 19 percent are confident about this once they are eligible for Medicare.