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Many seniors can't afford healthcare despite paying billions, finds Gallup

Seniors also reported their concern that rising healthcare costs will result in significant and lasting damage to the economy.

Jeff Lagasse, Associate Editor

Healthcare costs are on the rise, and seniors may be dramatically impacted by this trend, with a new Gallup study revealing that seniors have withdrawn an estimated $22 billion from long-term savings to pay for their healthcare costs.

Because of that, 77 percent seniors cite anxiety over healthcare costs and value. Defined as those 65 and older, the group also reported its concern that rising healthcare costs will result in significant and lasting damage to the economy.

IMPACT

The cost of prescription drugs is also a big hindrance for seniors, with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services projecting spending of up to $116 billion on retail prescription drugs this year alone.

In total, 92 percent of seniors polled said they feel healthcare costs will get worse, or at the very least not improve. Three in four seniors say the government isn't doing enough to control costs, and 7.5 million seniors are unable to pay for a medicine prescribed by their doctor.

To make matters worse, 80 percent said the prescriptions they can't afford are for a somewhat or very serious health condition.

Almost 12 percent of those polled -- representing 6.3 million seniors -- said they had withdrawn from savings to pay for healthcare. The average self-reported amount pulled from long-term savings was $3,521.02.

Eighty-two percent of those 65 and older said the federal and state governments are partially to blame for rising healthcare costs, yet an overwhelming majority agree the government is not doing enough to ensure that general healthcare or prescription drugs are affordable -- 75 and 80 percent, respectively.

THE TREND

Prices and spending in healthcare are growing steadily, but at a moderate pace, according to an October 2018 report from the Altarum Center for Value in Health Care.

The first half of the year saw just 1.9 percent growth, due partly to price increases of only 2 percent in the second quarter. The last quarterly price growth went above 2 percent was in 2012.

Still, growth has been steady, and the country's healthcare spending habits are at a level nearly double that of similar countries. Spending per capita in the U.S. is more than $9,000, compared to just over $5,000 in other Western nations.
 

Twitter: @JELagasse

Email the writer: jeff.lagasse@himssmedia.com

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