Recession taking a toll on health

The latest victim of the economic recession could be your health. According to a recent AARP survey, one in five adults ages 45 and older are suffering health problems due to financial stress. The survey details the health care problems and challenges many Americans are facing because of the current economic situation."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," said Bob Gallo, AARP Illinois Senior State Director. "It's a harsh irony that worrying about being able to afford health care is actually causing health problems." Key findings from the AARP survey, Impact of Economy on Health Behaviors, include: • 20% of people 45 and older reported health problems due to financial stress •About one fifth, 22%, have delayed seeing a doctor due to cost •16% had to use retirement savings or other savings to pay for medical care •21% have cut back on other expenses in order to afford their medical care •One in six, 16%, are not confident they will be able to afford health care in the coming year The survey also found that health problems due to financial stress is having a greater affect on individuals 45-54 and 55-64, than on those ages 65 and older (22% and 25% vs. 13%, respectively). Mounting health care 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. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, insurance premiums have increased 119 percent from 1999 to 2008, while workers' earnings have risen just 29 percent. "Clearly rising health care costs during difficult financial times is a major cause for concern for many people," added Gallo. "In Illinois, AARP will work side by side with state lawmakers to address the growing health care crisis." In Illinois, AARP is advocating for health care quality measures to establish needed reforms in the insurance industry, helping to ensure people are not denied coverage because of pre-existing health conditions, their age or other factors. AARP will also press for the expansion of health insurance through Medicaid to cover people between the ages of 50-64. At the national level, AARP is working on several measures to ensure health care is affordable and accessible. The full survey can be found at the following link: http://www.aarp.org/research/health/carefinancing/healthcosts_08.html ********** Published: January 2, 2009 - Volume 7 - Issue 37