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Brits face up to 13 years of living in poor health

Care costs for some people could top £170,000, warns charity

The UK’s ageing population faces up to 13 years of living in poor health, an analysis suggests.

The study by the charity Independent Age looked at the gap between healthy life expectancy and life expectancy at age 65 for every local authority in England.

It found that the gap for women is largest for residents of Harrow (13.6 years), Camden (13.5) and Bexley (13.1), while the largest gaps for men are in Kensington and Chelsea (12.5 years), Westminster and Newham (both 12.4).   

At the age of 65, female residents in Harrow are expected to have an average healthy life expectancy of 10.7 years. In contrast, their expected remaining life expectancy overall is 24.3 years – a difference of 13.6 years.

Gill Moffett, policy manager at Independent Age, said that while life expectancy has increased significantly in recent decades, it isn’t the only measure that matters.

“Many older people in England face more than a decade of poor health, during which time they are likely to need some form of social care,” she added. “This could mean facing a bill of tens of thousands, or even hundreds of thousands, of pounds in care costs – which they would be forced to pay in full if they have savings of more than £23,250.”

The analysis showed that a Harrow woman requiring 14 hours of home care per week (two hours per day) for the 13.6-year period of poor health would have a £178,200 care bill, which they would be forced to pay in full if they have savings of more than £23,250. 

Women’s overall life expectancy at age 65 is significantly higher for women – at an average of 21.1 years across England, compared to 18.8 for men.

However, the extra years in women’s lives are not always spent in good health, with the gap between healthy life expectancy and life expectancy averaging 10.2 years across the country. The average male gap was 8.3 years, according to the report published in the Telegraph.

Researchers also found that life expectancy at birth in the UK in 2016 to 2018 was 79.3 years for males and 82.9 years for females, with slight improvements observed from 2015 to 2017 of 3.7 weeks and 4.2 weeks for males and females respectively.