Amid the current health crisis, millions of Americans assessed their health coverage options as well as their means to pay for it — and for many, the outlook did not look good. In its second annual Wellness and Wealth Report, health savings account provider Lively revealed 87% of American adults agree that health care costs are rising but only 60% have enough money to cover a medical emergency this year.
As a result, 61% of Americans worry about what their health care costs will look like in retirement, according to the San Francisco-based company.
Americans worry about the consequences of rising health care costs
A recent Gallup poll found that quality health care is out of reach for 18% of adults in the U.S. — corroborating Lively's findings that good medical care is largely unavailable for those that can’t afford it. In fact, Lively discovered that many Americans are now forgoing crucial health care tasks, including:
- Not going to the doctor (46%)
- Delaying or skipping medications (45%)
- Not following a doctor's recommendations (44%)
Additionally, 11% of respondents only go to the doctor for a "medical catastrophe." This creates a vicious cycle, as health issues and the cost to address them only go up without proper care and coverage.
With the majority of Americans worrying about their short-term (63%) and long-term health care costs (73%) at least some of the time, it may come as little surprise that many expect to spend 40% of their retirement savings on health care alone.
What is concerning, though, is the fact that the majority of Americans nearing retirement age don't have enough money to actually retire right now. With health care costs expected to eat up a large part of their retirement savings, those without a healthy retirement fund won't have much money left for anything else.
Many take health care matters into their own hands
One silver lining of the COVID-19 pandemic is the focus it has put on health care and personal finance. Lively's most recent Wellness and Wealth Report shows that many are now taking steps to proactively manage their health care costs and knowledge.
Many respondents now understand terms such as:
- Insurance copay (84%)
- Insurance deductible (80%)
- Insurance out-of-pocket expense (80%)
And while 6 in 10 Americans report visiting the doctor every year for preventative care, another 15% now use telemedicine at least once a year to manage their health.
Lively also found that many are making health care benefits a priority in their employment decision-making as well. According to the health savings company, health care coverage is the most important benefit offered for employees after salary. Specifically, it showed that:
- 20% ranked health care coverage as the No. 1 reason for staying at a job and 16% ranked it as the No. 1 reason for switching jobs
- 22% ranked salary as the No. 1 reason for staying at a job and 28% ranked it as the No. 1 reason for switching jobs
Methodology: Lively and CITE Research conducted a survey of 1,000 randomly selected American adults ages 18 and older in April 2021.