December 31, 2008

Worry over healthcare causing ill health

One in 5 adults ages 45 and older are suffering health problems because of financial stress, an AARP survey indicates.

Right now people are increasingly concerned about their jobs, retirement savings and simply being able to provide for their families and it's taking a major toll on their health, Bob Gallo, AARP Illinois senior state director, said in a statement. It's a harsh irony that worrying about being able to afford healthcare is actually causing health problems.

Mounting healthcare costs are contributing to the financial woes felt by many. Over the last five years health insurance premiums for families have increased by 65 percent. The average cost of health insurance for an American family now exceeds the yearly income of a minimum wage worker. A Kaiser Family Foundation study found the health insurance premiums have increased 119 percent from 1999 to 2008, while workers' earnings have risen 29 percent, Gallo says.

The survey also reveals that 16 percent say they are not confident they will be able to afford healthcare in the coming year, 20 percent of people age 45 and older reported health problems due to financial stress and 21 percent have cut back on other expenses in order to afford their medical care.

This telephone survey of 820 adults age 45 and older was conducted for AARP Oct. 23-29 by ICR Inc. of Media, Pa. No margin of error was given.