Americans' Top Financial Worry Is The Cost of Health Care

Health care costs were more of a worry than debt, college expenses, unemployment, taxes

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July 10, 2017

The top financial worry facing Americans today is the cost of health care, according to a poll from Gallup.

Seventeen percent of respondents said health care costs were their biggest financial concern facing their family today. Health care costs were a bigger concern than debt, low wages, college expenses, cost of owning a home, retirement savings, taxes, and unemployment, just to name a few.

"As the U.S. Senate begins considering legislation that could significantly change the nation's health care system, the cost of health care leads the list of what Americans consider the most important financial problem facing their family," Gallup states.

"The 17% who name health care costs as their family's most pressing financial problem is up seven percentage points since 2013 and is just two points shy of the all-time high of 19% recorded in 2007."

During the recession in 2008, concern over health care costs declined as Americans became more concerned with unemployment, lack of money, and low wages. However, in 2009 and 2010, when Congress began drafting the Affordable Care Act, concern about the cost of health care began to grow. In April of 2010, 15 percent of respondents said health care costs were their greatest financial worry.

Since that time, worry about the cost of health care declined through 2013 but started to rise again in 2014 and now have risen to this year's 17 percent—the highest level seen since October 2007.

"Rising concern about health care costs comes at a time when Congress is working to develop a legislative plan to repeal major parts of the ACA, if not the entire legislation," Gallup explains. "Uncertainty surrounding the new health care bill and how it would affect costs may be one reason that more Americans cite health care as a top financial problem."

In addition to rising concern about health care costs, other financial concerns facing American families have declined. For example, only 10 percent of Americans were concerned about low wages, which is the lowest rate seen since before the financial crisis.

"Republicans in Congress, as well as President Donald Trump, may argue that rising concern about health care costs is yet another reason why the ACA should be repealed," Gallup states. "And there are signs that the law is under severe stress and costs may be rising for some Americans, as some health insurance companies pull out of the individual exchange markets. However, it is possible that news about the potential repeal of the ACA may itself be causing concern about health care costs to spike, as was the case in 2010, when Congress passed the bill after a long debate."