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Brief description of the dive:

  • Health care costs are becoming a growing source of stress for older Americans, leading to cuts in medical expenses, medicines, and other food and utility bills—or none at all—to cover medical expenses. new study by Gallup in partnership with West Health.
  • A U.S. adult survey released Wednesday found that nearly half of adults aged 50 to 64 and more than a third of adults aged 65 and over are worried they won’t be able to pay for essential health care next year. That’s almost 50 million older Americans.
  • About 80 million adults over 50 consider health care costs a financial burden. However, becoming eligible for Medicare seems to ease those concerns a bit: 24% of adults ages 50 to 64 who are not yet eligible for federal health insurance said health care costs are a significant burden. This percentage has dropped to 15% for those aged 65 and over.

Dive:

The September and October 2021 West Health-Gallup Poll is the latest example of how exorbitant U.S. health care costs are increasingly impacting the financial stability of Americans, especially those of retirement age who are more likely to have costly medical needs. .

Out-of-pocket health care spending for adults aged 65 and over rose 41% from 2009 to 2019. HHS data. This population spends, on average, nearly twice their total health care expenditure compared to the general population, despite Medicare coverage.

This cost problem is likely to get worse as inflation rises, driving up the cost of food, gas and other necessities. In addition, demographic shifts in the US are an additional stressor. By 2030, the percentage of Americans aged 65 and over will exceed the percentage under 18. the first in the history of the countryaccording to Census Bureau projections.

As a result, the burden on the Medicare program can affect benefits and costs for beneficiaries.

“As a significant number of Americans aged 65 and older face tangible trade-offs to pay for healthcare, many more Americans will face the health and financial consequences of high costs in the next decade,” the researchers write in the report.

A West Health-Gallup poll found that one in four adults aged 65 and over is cutting back on food, utilities, clothing, or medicines to cover health care costs. That’s up from three in 10 for adults ages 50 to 64.

Older women and black adults were more likely to forgo essentials to pay for healthcare than other demographics.

More than 20 million Americans aged 50 and over said they or a family member were sick in the past three months but did not seek treatment because of the cost.

More than 15 million Americans said they or their family members skipped a pill or dose of a prescribed medication to save money.

The researchers urged policymakers to take action to improve the efficiency and reduce the cost of health care and prescription drugs in the US. Congress has yet to take meaningful action to cut medical costs, despite growing support for government intervention and loud proposals from the Biden administration.

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