Survey: Rising Health Care Costs Top Worries

Twice as many Americans are more worried about rising health care costs than losing their job or being the victim of a terrorist attack, according to a new survey.

Researchers found 45 percent of American adults are "very worried" about having to pay more for their health care or insurance, and women are more concerned about health care issues than men.

The survey shows that worries over having to pay more for health care topped other nonhealth-related concerns, such as having an income that isn't keeping up with rising prices (40 percent), not being able to pay rent or the mortgage (24 percent), losing money in the stock market (19 percent), being the victim of a terrorist attack (18 percent), or losing a job (17 percent).

Sorting Out Health Care Worries

While worries over paying more for health care or insurance topped the list of concerns, other health-related worries also ranked highly, including:

Among those with health insurance, more than one-third (36 percent) of adults say they are very worried that their health plan cares more about saving money than about what is best for them. More than one-third of Americans say they are very worried about not being able to afford the prescription drugs they need (35 percent) and about not being able to afford health care services (34 percent). About three in 10 adults are very worried about losing their insurance coverage (30 percent of insured) and about the quality of their health care getting worse (28 percent).

The survey, conducted June 2-5 among a random national sample of 1,202 by the Kaiser Family Foundation, also showed that women were more concerned with health care issues than men.

Four in 10 women said they were "very worried" about not being able to keep up with the rising costs of health care services they need compared with fewer than three in 10 men. Women were also more likely to say that they were worried about not being able to afford prescription drugs.

Researchers say the gender difference is likely due to the fact that women are often the health care decision makers in the home and also tend to have lower incomes than men.

The survey also showed that nonwhites were more likely to report being worried about their own health care than whites (50 percent vs. 34 percent), and people with annual incomes under $50,000 reported higher levels of worry about health care than those who made more than $50,000.

By Jennifer Warner, reviewed by Brunilda Nazario, MD

SOURCES: Kaiser Health Poll Report, June 2005. News release, Kaiser Family Foundation.