Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Poll: 2 in 5 Americans lose sleep over health care costs

Poll: 2 in 5 Americans lose sleep over health care costs



Financial insomnia is at its highest level since the Great Recession

Has Obamacare reduced medical bankruptcy?  It may still be too early to determine this. Although medical providers, hospitals, and some physicians report delinquency to credit bureaus, it is up to the collection agency to take further legal actions.  These include obtaining a legal judgment, followed by garnishment of wages, or liens, seizure of bank accounts and other avenues to paralyze a family's finances and emotional health.

Americans are losing sleep over the cost of health care more than other money worries, according to a new national poll by CreditCards.com.  
Key poll findings
Here’s what our poll revealed about money worries that keep consumers up at night:
  • Health care tops all worries. Of the five times CreditCards.com has done this money worries poll since 2007, this is the first time health care has been the greatest producer of insomnia.
  • Saving for retirement still worrisome: Thirty-seven percent said they lie awake at night worrying about saving for retirement, down from 39 percent in 2016. Nearly half of Gen-Xers said they occasionally lose sleep over retirement savings.
  • Student loans robs shut-eye. Many more Americans are losing sleep over their ability to pay educational expenses – from 30 percent in 2016 to 34 percent this year. Younger millennials (ages 18-26) are more sleep deprived over student loans than any other group.
  • Mortgage and rent woes stay constant: Worry over making the monthly mortgage or rent payment keeps about 1 in 4 Americans up at night, about the same percentage as every poll since 2009.
  • Credit card debt? We mostly sleep through it. Paying off credit card debt (22 percent) keeps people up at night the least of any money worry. It has remained a relatively small concern since the Great Recession despite ballooning card balances and rising interest rates.
  • Spending less is key to a good night’s sleep. For this year’s survey, we asked a new question: What are you doing about your worries? Of those losing sleep, nearly 2 in 3 (64 percent) said they reduced their expenses to improve their financial situation in the past 12 months.
The scientific poll of 1,000 consumers was conducted April 6-9 via landline and cellphone. See survey methodology.

                    

Retirement savings and other worriesFor 37 percent of consumers, thinking about saving for retirement prepares you for sleep about as well as an espresso shot and a bucket of cold water in your face. But that number is 2 percent lower than it was in 2016, and this is the first time in our survey’s history that saving for retirement isn’t the biggest financial stressor.
However, people are growing increasingly concerned about paying off student loans. Thirty-four percent said they lose sleep over paying their educational expenses (or someone else’s), up from 30 percent in 2016 and 27 percent in 2009. It’s no surprise given the swelling debt load facing today’s college students and graduates. Outstanding student loan balances reached $1.4 trillion in December, according to the Federal Reserve.

Here are some of the surprises from the poll:
  • Health care tops all worries. Of the five times CreditCards.com has done this money worries poll since 2007, this is the first time health care has been the greatest producer of insomnia.
  • Credit card debt? We mostly sleep through it. Paying off credit card debt (22 percent) keeps people up at night the least of any money worry. It has remained a relatively small concern since the Great Recession despite ballooning card balances and rising interest rates.
Illness is rarely a choice, and no one elects to be hospitalized (except for elective surgery). This fact should motivate consumers to practice health and wellness which has been proven to reduce chronic illness.  This topic goes beyond this article.

Most consumers deal with this situation by spending less. Some key measures may include;

Do not buy the house you can afford (typical mortgage companies will only finance up to 30 % of income...buy less home.
Transportation: Walk more, or bicycle to work. Consider living near where you work and shop. Do you really need that Tesla ? Mercedes? BMW, Lexus, or SUV?  Other options are to not own an automobile. Uber it ! Rent a car for longer trips.   This . totally eliminates expenses for maintenance,  fuel, etc.  
College: How about a highly rated state university (although some of those are getting pricey)
Vacations:  Do you really have to travel to Bora Bora, or the Galapagos ?
Food: Eating out has become insanely expensive (and probably unhealthy) . Become a vegetarian. Meat and fish as a source of protein has become prohibitive for many. There are vegetable source for a high protein intake.
Consult with a health insurance expert. Consider alternative sources . such as direct payment primary care with a moderate deductible for a supplement for high expense plan. This has become more difficult with Obamacare, since the law requires all insurance companies to cover many things you may not want . (ie, Ob/Gyn, Pediatric, etc)

Maggie Baker, psychologist, financial therapist and author of the book “Crazy About Money: How Emotions Confuse our Money Choices and What to Do About It,” said the rancorous tone of the health care debate likely heightened consumers’ worries. The amount of conflict we’ve been subjected to and the nasty disagreement has made people extremely anxious,” Baker said. “If we were in a calmer political situation in this country, I think people would be worried about health care, but the level of anxiety wouldn’t be quite as high.”

In retirement I have become a spendthrift. I am one of you who could not save for retirement due to medical costs, premature disability due to cardiac disease a son with cystic fibrosis, and severe cuts in reimbursements for physicians.  

I have no shame and neither should any of you who find yourself backed into a corner. For many it is a no-win situation. 

But even if we were all at ease with our health care system, the fear of a costly medical emergency would persist for many consumers.
“When you get sick you are very vulnerable, and you’re not thinking about how you’re going to pay these bills,” Baker said. “Then you have a $500,000 hospital bill and it’s one of the worst negative surprises you can ever get. Emotionally, it wreaks havoc on the person who’s sick.” 






Poll: 2 in 5 Americans lose sleep over health care costs













Poll: 2 in 5 Americans lose sleep over health care costs
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