Healthcare costs remain the most important financial problem facing American families, according to a new poll.
According to an April 17-30 survey from Gallup, 17% name healthcare, followed by lack of money or low wages, named by 11%. A year ago, those two issues and personal debt essentially tied for first; healthcare was also the leader in 2017.
College expenses, housing costs, and taxes were named as problematic after healthcare costs and low wages, with 8% of Americans citing each.
“Executives should be interested because cost drives consumer healthcare access today in part because of high-deductible plans and increased awareness of what's sometimes called ‘surprise billing,’” says Andrea Pearson, chief marketing officer at DispatchHealth, an on-demand healthcare provider headquartered in Denver.
“Consumers report delaying care because of cost uncertainty, raising the risk that health issues may become more serious and expensive,” Pearson says. “If you are accountable for the health of a population, you want to be sure high-needs patients have access to the care they need, when they need it.”
Gallup has asked the “most important family financial problem” question on 48 separate occasions since 2005. During that time, only healthcare costs, energy costs/oil and gas prices, and lack of money/low wages, have topped the list in any single poll. Healthcare costs typically competed with energy costs as the top problem before the Great Recession, depending on the price of gasoline.
Older Americans are most likely to name healthcare as the most commonly mentioned financial challenge, according to Gallup. Twenty-five percent of adults between the ages of 50 and 64, and 23% of those aged 65 and older, say healthcare costs are the biggest problem for their family's finances.
For adults younger age 50—who are about as likely to name lack of money, college expenses, and housing costs as their greatest financial challenges—healthcare ties for first. Adults under age 30 also commonly mention debt and the high cost of living.
Healthcare cost transparency is key, according to Pearson. “DispatchHealth communicates what copay or cost a patient will have before we ever visit their home to provide care,” she says. “The information is clearly posted on our web site and is reviewed with each patient as they are onboarded to receive care.”