Poll: Health-Care Costs Top List of Financial Issues for American Families

Mairead McArdle

Health-care topped the list of biggest financial concerns for respondents in a new Gallup poll released Thursday.

Close to 17 percent of respondents in the poll said health-care expenses are their biggest financial issue, topping the 11 percent who cited lack of money or low wages, the 9 percent who cited rent or owning a home, the 8 percent who cited college expenses, and the 8 percent who cited taxes. Debt, cost of living, retirement savings, and unemployment ranked farther down the list.

About 20 percent of poll respondents said they do not have a “most important financial problem,” the highest percentage since 2005, when 21 percent said so.

Health care topped the list for citizens in all income groups, but was an especially popular response among older Americans. Almost a quarter of those 50 and older cited health-care costs as their most significant financial concern. Younger Americans split their responses evenly between health care, college expenses, and rent or housing costs.

The cost of health care has dominated the political debate intermittently in recent years as Congress struggled to pass an alternative to the Affordable Care Act. Democrats continue to support President Obama’s signature piece of legislation, while Republicans have tried and failed to repeal it whole, before deciding to chip away at parts of the law. In the 2018 midterm elections, health care was the number one issue motivating voters to hand Democrats control of the House.

“Even in generally good economic times, Americans still face significant personal financial challenges,” Gallup said in a statement accompanying the poll’s release. “Foremost among these are healthcare costs, which have been a consistent concern over time but currently stand above all other concerns. As such, healthcare will likely continue to be a major focus in national elections, including the 2020 presidential election.”

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