Gallup - Health care remains a top financial burden for American families

Americans See Healthcare, Low Wages as Top Financial Problems

By Art Swift
Gallup, January 21, 2015

Healthcare costs and lack of money or low wages rank as the most important financial problems facing American families, each mentioned by 14% of U.S. adults.

Gallup has been asking Americans about the most important financial problem facing their family in an open-ended format for the past 10 years. Healthcare this year has returned to the top of the list for the first time since early 2010, when the Affordable Care Act, or "Obamacare," was signed into law. Still, Americans viewed it as an even bigger financial problem in 2007, when a range of 16% to 19% said it was most important.

For Americans earning $75,000 or more a year, retirement savings, college expenses and healthcare costs rank as the most important financial problems. Among lower-income Americans, retirement savings and college expenses are less important. Healthcare costs, however, have double-digit-percentage support across the board.

Bottom Line

The American economy continues to recover. With Gallup's Economic Confidence Index in positive territory for the first time since the Great Recession, and with President Barack Obama stating that the U.S. last year had its best year for job growth since 1999, certain financial problems have receded from the nation's memory, while others have persisted in the forefront. Americans have consistently cited healthcare, a topic of fierce debate this decade, as one of the most important financial problems, and it remains so.



By Don McCanne, MD

The recent slowing in the rate of increases in health care costs has been good news for those supervising budgets of government health programs and for employers providing employee health benefits, but how has it impacted patients? This new Gallup poll shows that health care costs remain one of the most important financial problems facing American families. The Affordable Care Act has not provided the level of financial relief from medical bills that Americans want and need.

Under the current financing model, there is virtually no prospect for future relief. In fact, the trend of placing an ever greater financial burden on “health care consumers” will likely compound medical debt problems for patients. We need a new model. We need a single payer national health program.