As unemployment in the United States stubbornly remains over 9 percent, media pundits seem to concentrate on how a lack of employment opportunities will drag down consumer spending and overall economic growth. But unemployment is not only impacting the country’s health, but also the health of those struggling financially to get by as they look for work.
Health benefits represent one of the many perks that most Americans are offered when they are employed full-time. But for many of the 14 million Americans currently searching for employment, the cost of prescription drugs or medical procedures is out of reach as they try to meet day-to-day expenses. Their strategy for coping could be putting themselves at risk
A recently released Consumer Reports survey found that almost half of the 1,226 consumers taking at least one medication said they didn’t refill their prescriptions, took less medicine than a prescribed dose or neglected to undergo a doctor-recommended medical test. This is nine percentage points higher than the 39 percent reported last year in the annual survey.
Health has become a primary concern across all wealth levels according to studies conducted this year by Millionaire Corner. In households with a net worth between $100,000 and $1 million (not including primary residence), concerns about the health of one’s spouse are near equal to worried about having enough money set aside for retirement. Nearly 60 percent are concerned about a family health catastrophe as well as their own health. In Ultra High Net Worth households with a net worth between $5 million and $25 million, these health issues comprise three of the top four personal concerns. The responsibility of caring for aging parents as well as having someone take care of themself in their senior years is also of concern across all wealth levels.
The rising costs of premiums and deductibles, not to mention the increasing number of employers who are cutting back on health care coverage are only exacerbating these concerns. People now want to know more detailed information about the specific costs for which they will be responsible as they attempt to put together holistic financial plans. One in six U.S. households and one in four with incomes less than $50,000 say they feel stress over how much they must spend on medical care, the Consumer Reports survey said.
Donald Liebenson writes news and features for Millionaire Corner. He has been published in the Chicago Tribune, The Chicago Sun-Times, The Los Angeles Times, Fiscal Times, Entertainment Weekly, Huffington Post, and other outlets. He has also served as a marketing writer for Chicago-based Questar Entertainment and distributor Baker & Taylor.
A graduate of the University of Southern California, he is married with a college-age son. He also writes extensively about entertainment.