By Lisa Zamosky
Two new reports highlight how inextricably linked health and money are in this country, and how many people are making medical decisions based on the state of their finances.
The first survey, conducted by consulting firm, Hill & Knowlton Strategies, found that nearly 1 in 3 people put off medical treatment or a checkup because of cost. The survey included 800 people, 85% of whom had some type of health insurance coverage; 11% were temporarily unemployed.
According to the survey:
- 45% of people questioned said they worry a lot about paying medical bills in the event of a catastrophic illness or accident
- 36% are very concerned about paying for health-insurance coverage
- 53% said cost is the number one problem with health care in the U.S.
Given those numbers, perhaps not surprisingly, most people expressed a greater interest in health care companies figuring out ways to lower costs than finding new medicines or cures.
Health Care Costs Eat Away at Savings
Another recent study conducted by the Employee Benefits Research Institute found that cost was the main reason behind in the increase in the percentage of Americans who rate the U.S. health care system as “poor.”
Particularly troubling in the research findings is that rising health care costs are eating away at Americans’ ability to plan for their financial security. Of those who saw their health costs rise, 31% say they’ve started to contribute less money to their retirements plans. More than 50% have reduced the amount of money they sock away in savings.
And when they look down the road, Americans expect a lower level of confidence in their future ability to afford health care than they have now. Today, 34% of Americans claim to feel confident that they’ll be able to afford the health care they need. Put another way, nearly 7 in 10 people believes they can’t afford needed medical care.
Only 17% of Americans expect they’ll be able to afford needed health care once covered by Medicare.
It’s clear that Americans have a growing anxiety about the cost of health care both now and into the future.
How are health care costs affecting you and your family? Have your costs gone up? If so, do you find yourself using health care services differently in response? Please share your thoughts/comments below.