According to a Kaiser news release, nearly a quarter (23%) of respondents said that, within the past year, they or a member of their household have either taken a new job or stuck with their current job (turned down a new one) primarily because of better health benefits. In addition, 7% said that, in the past year, they or someone in their household decided to get married in order to have access to a spouse’s health care benefits, or so a spouse could have access to their benefits.
Considering other survey findings, it is not so surprising that health care costs are factored in such important decisions. Nearly three in 10 Americans (28%) reported they or their families have had a serious problem paying for health care and health insurance as a result of recent changes in the economy, behind paying for gas (44%) and about tied with getting a good-paying job or raise in pay (29%). Problems paying for health care extends to families of all incomes: almost three in 10 (28%) of those earning between $30,000 and $75,000 reported a serious problem paying for health care or health insurance as a result of recent changes in the economy.
Health care costs are affecting total family finances. Nearly four in 10 (37%) respondents reported at least one of six financial troubles over the past five years as a result of medical bills, including:
- having difficulties paying other bills (20%);
- being contacted by a collections agency (20%);
- using up all or most of their savings (17%);
- being unable to pay for basic necessities such as food, heat or housing (12%);
- borrowing money (10%); or
- declaring bankruptcy (3%).
The high cost of health care also caused a significant number of Americans to delay or go without medical care, Kaiser found. More than four in 10 (42%) survey respondents said that, within the past year, they or a family member living in their household have experienced at least one of five specific consequences due to cost:
- put off or postponed getting needed care (29%);
- skipped a recommended medical test or treatment (24%);
- not filled a prescription (23%);
- cut pills in half or skipped doses of medicine (19%); or
- had problems getting mental health care (8%).
Increasing costs are driving individuals to increasingly take these actions – while 24% now report skipping a recommended medical test or treatment in the past year because of the cost, in 2005, 17% reported doing so, Kaiser said.
Complete results of the Kaiser poll are here .
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